News Release
Posted by The MolinaCares Accord

The MolinaCares Accord Hosts Panel on Behavioral Health Workforce Capacity in Washington

Washington is facing record behavioral health workforce shortages due to increased need and inadequate funding and compensation, resulting in decreased access to care for patients.

Media Contact: Caroline Zubieta,, 562-951-1588

SEATTLE, Wash., Dec. 16, 2021The MolinaCares Accord (“MolinaCares”), in collaboration with Molina Healthcare of Washington (“Molina”) hosted a virtual panel with the University of Washington School of Nursing on the impact of severe behavioral health workforce shortages in Washington and how to combat the issue. The event, hosted by Dr. Jay Fathi, Molina Healthcare of Washington plan president, highlighted the University of Washington’s new Family and Psychiatric Primary Care curriculum for nurse practitioners.

Washington has long faced behavioral health workforce shortages and the COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated this problem. As of September 2021, only 16.8 percent of Washington’s mental health care workforce need is met. To provide the best care for Washingtonians in every corner of the state, it is critical to address the worker shortages and adequately train and prepare the next generation of behavioral health care workers.

“At a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed behavioral health care into the spotlight, it’s critical that our state’s behavioral health workforce has the capacity, funding, and support it needs to provide the best care to our communities,” said Dr. Fathi. “There’s no one answer to addressing the behavioral health workforce shortages, but through collaborations with organizations like the UW School of Nursing, Molina is proud to be a partner in building a stronger, well-rounded workforce.”

The panel of experts featured host and moderator, Dr. Fathi; Sue Birch, director of the Washington State Health Care Authority; Representative Eileen Cody, chair of the Washington House of Representatives Health Care and Wellness Committee; and Dr. Azita Emami, executive dean of the University of Washington School of Nursing.

The panelists discussed behavioral health capacity in Washington State, how workforce shortages effect access to care, COVID-19’s impact on health professionals and the challenges they face, and the partnership between MolinaCares and the University of Washington School of Nursing to develop the new Family and Psychiatric Primary Care curriculum.

“We are in the workforce crisis phase of the COVID-19 pandemic. As the Molina and UW partnership shows, there must be a continuing emphasis on team-based care and the opportunity to do things differently in the academic and workforce space,” said Sue Birch, director of the Washington State Health Care Authority. “With an aligned commitment toward workforce enhancement and continuing healthcare system redesign, we will be able to improve the health of all Washingtonians.”

The full panel discussion can be viewed here.

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About the MolinaCares Accord:

Established by Molina Healthcare, Inc., the MolinaCares Accord oversees a community investment platform created to improve the health and well-being of disadvantaged populations by funding meaningful, measurable, and innovative programs and solutions that improve health, life, and living in local communities.