Governor signs series of bills with tribal leaders, including one sponsored by ALTSA

On Thursday, March 31, Gov. Jay Inslee joined Washington state tribal leaders at the Tulalip Resort Casino in Marysville, Washington to sign seven bills into law. The new laws will improve American Indian/Alaska Natives access to services, increase participation in regional planning and develop a stronger network to support missing and murdered indigenous people. Amongst those bills was Senate Bill 5866, Concerning Medicaid long-term services and supports eligibility determinations completed by federally recognized Indian tribes.

SB 5866 allows DSHS to contract with federally recognized tribes to determine individual eligibility for Medicaid long-term services and supports within the tribe’s regional authority. These contract activities can include assessments and reassessments, authorizing or reauthorizing services and case management functions in the community and in nursing homes.

Senator June Robinson (D- Everett) sponsored the bill and joined Governor Inslee to celebrate it’s signing.

“This bill is about trust,” Senator Robinson said during her remarks, “We have to make sure our elders get the services and respect they deserve. It is much easier to trust someone from your own community. This will help many live out their last years in a healthy way.”

This bill was passed unanimously in both the House and Senate the most recent legislative session. ALTSA’s Tribal Affairs Administrator, Marietta Bobba, serves on the Governor’s Interagency Council on Health Disparities and worked hard on this legislation in the interim and throughout session to get it passed.

About the bill, Marietta said, “Passage of this legislation provides an opportunity to expand ALTSA’s network of trained case managers and increase equitable options for native elders and individuals with disabilities to receive long-term services from someone who is from their culture. This legislation supports the growing partnerships with tribes to provide the best services possible to a growing older population.”

SB 5866, now law, is exemplary of the DSHS mission of ‘Transforming Lives.’ By giving DSHS the ability to contract with tribal governments for these services, tribal members will be able to receive services in a manner that is more comfortable, culturally sensitive and efficient. It also frees up state staff and Area Agencies on Aging to serve additional non-tribal members.

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