Washington agency fined $100M for mental health treatment failures

The Washington Department of Social and Health Services has been fined $100 million by a federal judge for breaching a settlement agreement that set time frames for people in jail to receive behavioral health services at state facilities, The Seattle Times reported July 7.

The ruling was issued by Judge Marsha Pechman of the U.S. Western District of Washington, who also said the agency "effectively created a bed shortage" when it shut down wards at Western State Hospital in Lakewood that treated behavioral health patients in the civil court system.

People in jail with behavioral health needs as of April were found to wait an average of 130 days before being admitted to a state facility to receive inpatient services and treatment, the report said.

In addition to the $100 million fine to be paid within 30 days, DSHS officials will be subject to 10 key changes, including no longer admitting civil conversion to state hospital patients, the report said.

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