After considering two options, the Chelan-Douglas Regional Support Network has asked to merge with the Greater Columbia Behavioral Health, based in Kennewick.
The request came during Greater Columbia's Aug. 7 board meeting, and the board could have an answer at its next meeting on Sept. 4.
Chelan-Douglas RSN could also merge with the Spokane RSN, the only other service network in Eastern Washington.
The merger is necessary because the Chelan-Douglas RSN doesn't serve enough Medicaid recipients on its own to meet new requirements. About 35,000 people in Chelan and Douglas counties are using the public mental health services.
Ken Roughton, director of Greater Columbia Behavioral Health, confirmed his organization's board received a merger request.
Beyond that, he said, he can't comment at this time because nothing has been decided and it's up to the boards from the two Regional Support Networks to settle on a path forward.
Other counties in the Greater Columbia Behavioral Health include Asotin, Benton, Columbia, Franklin, Garfield, Kittitas, Klickitat, Walla Walla, Whitman and Yakima.
Okanogan and Grant counties are part of the Spokane RSN.
Chelan-Douglas RSN officials say the transition should be seamless for clients, as the merger will not affect its contracts with Catholic Family & Child Services, Columbia Valley Community Health or the Children's Home Society to provide mental health services.
The merger could take place by Dec. 31.
Chelan-Douglas RSN officials say they like the opportunity to stay involved in mental health decisions offered by the Greater Columbia Behavioral Health.
"When you talk to commissioners in the Spokane RSN, they say, 'We don't even worry about mental health issues. Spokane (County) takes care of all that,' " said Douglas County Commissioner Dale Snyder, who is on the Chelan-Douglas RSN board. "When you talk to the ones in Greater Columbia, they're still actively involved. They know what's going on."
Snyder said the Spokane RSN board has no representation from the other counties it serves, while the Greater Columbia Behavioral Health's board is made up of one county commissioner from each county involved in the RSN.
"I think merging with Greater Columbia, we're going to have access to a lot more resources that we just don't have access to right now," Snyder added.