June 25, 2018
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Western State Hospital loses federal certification and $53 million in annual funding

The state's largest psychiatric treatment center has failed a key inspection and will lose $53 million a year in federal funding.

The U.S. Centers for Medicare Medicaid Services (CMS) today informed the state that while the hospital has gotten better since a 2016 improvement agreement, it is still falling short on the requirements to retain $53 million in federal funding. The Washington Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) announced the federal survey results today.

"Western made significant strides toward correcting its areas of non-compliance... however, CMS has determined that Western’s progress did not constitute substantial compliance with the Medicare conditions of participations," the federal agency told the state in a letter.

DSHS said the state will cover the lost federal funds, which make up "less than 20 percent" of the hospital's overall annual funding. Backfilling the money means another $100 million per biennium cost for the state budget.

The News Tribune covered the story, writing "The loss of certification is the latest black eye for the struggling psychiatric hospital in Lakewood, which has been plagued by assaults on staff and patients, long wait times, patient escapes, aging facilities and staffing shortages for years, particularly in the wake of budget cuts during the Great Recession."

In a video posted on YouTube today to Western State Hospital employees, DSHS Secretary Cheryl Strange said "this is a better hospital than it was in June 2016, thanks to you... Our work transforming the mental health system in our state is just beginning."

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