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House of Representatives
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: February 2, 2017 02:43 PM
From: Representative Margo L. Davidson
To: All House members
Subject: Mental Health System Reform Legislation (Re-Introduction)
In the near future, I intend to re-introduce a legislative package that will strengthen community mental health crisis response systems and treatment programs to ensure individuals with debilitating mental illness receive the treatment they need. With the recent passage of the bipartisan federal 21st Century Cures Act, it is imperative that we do everything we can to increase access to mental health treatment programs and help families receive the supports and services they require to assist loved ones in crisis. These bills can finally bring parity for illness that affects the brain as well as the body.

Therefore, I ask that you join me in co-sponsoring this important package of legislation that aids individuals within the Commonwealth who are in need of specialized treatment for their mental illnesses. This package of legislation will assist individuals living with serious mental illnesses in our communities thrive and invest in practices that help break the cycle of mental illness, incarceration and inadequate care.

Bill #1

The first bill – former House Bill 1630 of the 2015-16 Legislative Session – would codify the standards and guidelines for assertive community treatment (ACT) created by the Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services within the Department of Human Services. Similar to the guidelines, this legislation will provide for the establishment, organization, treatment, and evaluation of ACT services.

ACT provides long term community based, highly individualized care for individuals suffering for serious and resistant mental health conditions. An evidence-based, best practice, ACT involves a multidisciplinary team providing assertive outreach to individuals who are most at-risk of homelessness, crisis and frequent hospitalization, and involvement with the criminal justice system. The federal 21st Century Cures Act specifically authorizes grant programs to establish and operate ACT programs and other early intervention programs.

Bill #2

The second bill – former House Bill 1629 of the 2015-16 Legislative Session – would amend The Insurance Company Law of 1921 to require insurance companies to provide health insurance coverage for ACT for individuals with serious and persistent mental illness. Currently insurance companies only cover 3 types of treatment – Hospitalization, Partial-Hospitalization and IOP (Intensive-Out-Patient). This harmful treatment gap means that prisons have become the mental hospitals of the day and they are ill-equipped to provide appropriate care nor should they.

Bill #3

The third bill – former House Bill 2512 of the 2013-14 Legislative Session – would amend Act 143 of July 9, 1976, known as the Mental Health Procedures Act, to require facilities to notify an individual’s next of kin, including their spouse, parents, or children, in the event that their relative has been admitted to a mental health facility as a result of a mental health incident.

Bill #4

The fourth bill – former House Bill 2514 of the 2013-14 Legislative Session – would amend Act 153 of 2004, known as the Pennsylvania Amber Alert System Law, for the purpose of requiring the Pennsylvania State Police to operate the Missing Endangered Person Advisory System, just as they would the Amber Alert System, and requiring coordination with various state and federal authorities for the recovery of missing children and missing at-risk individuals.

Members are free to co-sponsor one or all four bills in this Mental Health Reform Package.