Accountability measures from Wilson clear state Senate

OLYMPIA… The state Senate today unanimously supported legislation from Sen. Lynda Wilson that would do more to hold the state Health Care Authority accountable for Medicaid-related spending, and its oversight of managed-care organizations.

Senate Bill 5620 sends a clear message: The Health Care Authority has to keep a better handle on things, and a big part of that is making sure the right amount of money goes to the right provider for the right reason,” said Wilson, R-Vancouver.

The legislation is rooted in a pair of audits conducted in 2021. One was a performance audit of Medicaid “program integrity,” which had the state auditor’s office look at how the Health Care Authority oversees Medicaid-supported efforts at state agencies, such as the Department of Social and Health Services and the Department of Children, Youth and Families. The second was a look at the HCA budgeting and accounting practices, done by the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee on which Wilson serves.

“Few things damage the public’s trust in government more than a state agency that can’t prove tax dollars are spent efficiently and wisely,” said Wilson, who is Senate Republican budget leader. “There are things the HCA needs to do to run a tighter ship, which can only help to rebuild trust, and this bill spells them out.”

Earlier today the Senate also gave unanimous support to Wilson’s Senate Bill 5607, another accountability measure that is intended to improve the accuracy of annual county-level “point in time” counts of homeless populations. It would direct counties to include not only persons living on the street, but also people who are homeless but are in jails and hospitals on the night of the count.

“The Legislature can do a better job of responding to our state’s homelessness situation if it knows the true extent of that situation,” said Wilson, who set the stage for the bill last year in a policy paper about reducing homelessness.

Both measures now move to the House of Representatives.