The House Appropriations Committee last night heard testimony on House Bill 1559, which would allow WSU to operate a medical school.
Like many previous hearings, the discussion revolved around funding – this was the House budget committee, after all – and the ongoing talks between WSU and UW to figure out how the ending of the WWAMI partnership will work our financially.
Rep. Marcus Riccelli (D-Spokane), the prime sponsor of this bill, said this bill is a simple policy change, but there will indeed need to be budget discussions down the road.
“This legislation paves the way for an increase in the number of students training in Washington,” he said.
Rep. Kevin Parker (R-Spokane) also testified in support of the bill and said it simply allows the legislature to start a conversation about how it will increase the number of medical school spots in the state.
Ken Roberts, the Acting Dean of the WSU College of Medical Sciences, said WSU remains supportive of the WWAMI medical school program. Roberts made the case that the state needs another medical school and can handle multiple medical schools, just like states all across the nation do.
The medical school model WSU pursues would help rural and underserved areas by aggressively seeking candidates from those areas during the admissions process.
You can watch the hearing here (HB 1559 testimony begins at about the 4:03 mark).
A vote on this bill in forthcoming. For more information, visit medicine.wsu.edu.