The 2000 Legislature provided for the distribution of “atypical antipsychotic” medications to underserved populations with psychiatric disorders. Pierce County Regional Support Network (Pierce RSN) and Harborview Mental Health Services (HMHS) were participants in this pilot program, serving 282 and 192 clients, respectively. Both programs fulfilled the legislative requirements, serving a severely mentally ill population with few resources. The programs provided temporary access to medications, helping to fill the funding gap between the time a low-income person needs medication until a Medicaid coupon or an alternative medication funding source becomes available. Many participants transitioned onto Medicaid: approximately 40 percent of participants in both programs were Medicaid eligible in state records six months after the program ended. Nearly two-thirds of program participants stayed in the program for no more than two months.
The only feasible research design was a comparison of participants before and after the program. This design does not allow scientific conclusions about a program’s effectiveness. Comparing the year prior to and after program entry, Pierce RSN participants showed fewer felony and misdemeanor criminal convictions and psychiatric hospital admissions and increased participation in outpatient services; no improvement in employment status was found. HMHS participants had increased participation in outpatient services, showed slightly fewer felony convictions, but no improvement in misdemeanor convictions, psychiatric hospitalizations, or employment status