The Pierce County Council has passed, in a 5-1 vote, a sales tax increase to fund behavioral health and therapeutic court services.

It also set in motion the creation of a pilot program aimed at reinvesting more Medicaid dollars into Pierce County.

The council approved a 1/10th of 1 percent sales tax increase. At the same time, members authorized the creation of an Accountable Care Organization (ACO) pilot program, and the establishment of a Behavioral Health Advisory Board to create a behavioral health implementation plan.

The ACO will oversee distribution of federal Medicaid dollars in Pierce County. The sales tax increase will fill the gaps not covered by the program or Medicaid, and is estimated to generate $12 million annually for behavioral health services.

The county finance director has until April 15, 2021 to certify state and federal agency approval of the ACO model. Once certified, the sales tax increase will be collected. The tax collection will cease after Dec. 31, 2027, unless a future council extends it.