Health Care & Human Services

Washington state is a national leader in the delivery of high-quality, lower-cost health care. Thanks to our successful implementation of the Affordable Care Act, more than 700,000 people are enrolled in new and more affordable health care plans. We’ve lowered our uninsured rate from 16 percent in 2013 to an all-time historic low rate of 6 percent. But health care coverage is only one piece of the governor's health care agenda. Gov. Inslee is working for better health, higher quality health care, lower costs, more transparency and a system that integrates mental health care and primary care.

The governor also recognizes that good health is affected by several factors, many of which are determined outside the doctor’s office. Factors like income, education and social supports all contribute to our citizens’ well-being. That’s why the state provides a range of human services to keep Washington families safe and secure. These services include everything from helping veterans enter the work force, to ensuring children don't go to school hungry.

Current Work


  • Executive Order 16-09 - Addressing the Opioid Public Health Crisis
  • Results Washington. Goal 4: Healthy and Safe Communities
  • Improve health.
    • Healthiest Next Generation. We can bend the curve of childhood obesity by supporting things like a healthy diet, regular exercise and an opportunity to enjoy the outdoors in school. The governor’s initiative also supports youth substance use prevention and education efforts like regulating e-cigarettes.
    • Employee wellness - SmartHealth. By working with state employees to manage chronic conditions and engage them in preventive care strategies, the state can offer employees better quality health care and save money. Read Gov. Inslee's Executive Order on employee wellness here
  • Reduce firearm fatalities and suicides. In January of 2016, Gov. Inslee announced an executive order launching a statewide public health initiative to reduce and prevent gun related fatalities and injuries. The order also implements the Statewide Suicide Prevention Plan. 
  • Provide better care at lower costs. Gov. Inslee’s Healthier Washington plan will transform health care in Washington state so that people experience better health during their lives, receive better care when they need it, and get more affordable and accessible care.
  • Expand coverage and access to care. Affordable health plans through the health care exchange and Medicaid expansion through Apple Health help Washington families get better care. Gov. Inslee is also working to ensure access to care in rural and underserved communities.
  • Prepare for the Age Wave. Our population is living longer, baby-boomers are retiring and our population continues to grow. Gov. Inslee hosted the state’s first ever Governor’s Aging Summit, which established a solid short-term and long-term plan for Washington state to prepare for the age wave.
  • Results Washington. Gov. Inslee’s goals for decreasing infant mortality, decreasing teen pregnancy, decreased teen smoking and decreased youth alcohol use are all on track to meet or exceed targets.

Human Services

  • Results Washington. Stability and Self Sufficiency
  • Improve mental health care. Gov. Inslee is promoting policies that provide better access to treatment for adults and children and enhance safety for patients and staff.
  • Strengthen our foster care system. Part of a successful foster care system means increasing education opportunities for foster children, increasing caseworker staffing and supporting foster care families.

Key Successes


  • Protecting minors against harmful products. Gov. Inslee signed SB 6328 that strengthens protections for minors against the sale and use of e-cigarettes and vapor products. The bill is part of the governor’s Healthiest Next Generation efforts.
  • Reducing lead exposure. Gov. Inslee issued a directive to the state Department of Health and partner agencies to assist local communities with lead testing and take steps aimed at reducing lead exposure in Washington.
  • Investments in behavioral health workforce. One of the key health care reforms underway in Washington state is the improved integration of mental health with primary care and chemical dependency treatment. This new behavioral health approach will require additional health care workers. Gov. Inslee directed the Workforce Training and Education Coordinating Board, in partnership with the Health Workforce Council, to evaluate current and projected workforce shortages in behavioral health. 


  • A healthier Washington. More than 700,000 Washingtonians are enrolled in new, more affordable health care plans thanks to our state exchange. That’s lowered our uninsured rate to an all-time low: 6 percent. 
  • Better health care information on price and quality. In an effort to make health care data more transparent and available, Gov. Inslee worked to pass SB 5084 that creates an all-payer claims database. The database will give consumers, employers, medical providers and policy makers the information they need to make informed decisions about buying and using health care.
  • Better mental health care. Mental health care is one of Gov. Inslee’s top priorities.
    • This year he worked to pass HB 1450 which makes it easier for the families of people with mental health issues to get proper emergency mental care for their loved ones. 
    • He also helped pass SB 5177 to address the unacceptably long wait times of people charged with crimes whose ability to stand trial is in question until they receive certain mental health services, a process known as “competency restoration.” 
    • The final 2015-2017 budget invests $40 million in the forensic mental health system by increasing staff and available beds and creates the Office of Forensic Mental Health. 
  • Ensuring the Healthiest Next Generation. The 2015-2017 budget continues the governor’s Healthiest Next Generation initiative and programs to promote healthy eating and more physical activity.
  • Fair pay for health care workers. Supported living providers help thousands of people with disabilities and health issues remain at home instead of living in costly assisted care facilities. These providers, many of whom earn minimum wage, received their first raise in eight years.
  • Homeless youth. Gov. Inslee’s Homeless Youth Act establishes the Office of Youth Homelessness within the Department of Commerce, charged with coordinating services to make sure that youth can easily access the resources they need. The new office will make recommendations to the governor and legislature about the strategies and resources needed to improve youth homelessness services. 
  • Support for our veterans. Gov. Inslee’s veterans tuition bill will make veterans, their spouses and their children eligible to attend our public colleges and universities and pay resident tuition rates. 


  • A healthier Washington. Gov. Inslee launched the Healthiest Next Generation initiative to make Washington’s next generation the healthiest ever. The initiative’s workgroup will recommend state policies that support community-led encouragement for children to be more active and eat better.
  • Better mental health care. The governor’s HB 2572 aims to improve mental health care integration, cost transparency and the purchasing of health care. SB 6312 is the complimentary bill that improves the way we care for people with severe mental illness, integrates chemical dependency with that care and begins the integration of care to treat the whole person.
  • Support for our veterans. 
    • The governor’s office worked to pass SHB 2363 which allows developmentally disabled children of military service members to continue to qualify for home and community based services while the service member and family are out of state due to military assignment. Washington is the first state in the nation to pass legislation like this.
    • Governor request legislation SHB 2171 helps strengthen economic protections for military personnel.  


  • Affordable health care. With bipartisan support, Washington implemented the Affordable Care Act and expanded Medicaid to ensure access to affordable health care for low income families. Now, 400,000 new people have Medicaid coverage. Read Gov. Inslee's Executive Order on the Affordable Care Act here.
  • Support for our veterans. Gov. Inslee’s first executive order helped boost the hiring of Washington’s veterans. The order increased the state’s collective efforts to make sure veterans and their families share in Washington’s prosperity. 


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