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House of Representatives
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: December 17, 2019 03:06 PM
From: Representative Margo L. Davidson
To: All House members
Subject: Mental Health System Reform Legislation (Re-Introduction)
From: Representative Margo L. Davidson
To: All House members

We are in the midst of a mental health crisis here in Pennsylvania and across the country. A recent story in the Philadelphia Inquirer details how a man diagnosed with schizophrenia was brought to the hospital by his mother and sent home as ‘mentally sound’ only to murder her, her husband and his two half-brothers the very next day. While this kind of violence in the community is rare, blocked access to treatment is far too commonplace. This tragic story is emblematic of the critical need we have to reform, strengthen, and update our community mental health treatment and response systems. It is imperative that families receive the supports and services to assist loved ones in crisis. This package of legislation will invest in practices that help break the cycle of mental illness, incarceration and inadequate care. Therefore, I ask that you join me in co-sponsoring this important package of legislation that will finally bring parity for illness that affects the brain as well as the body.

Any questions, concerns or request to view this legislation, please email whaigood@pahouse.net.

Document #1

Description: Bill #1: Codifies 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.



Document #2

Description: Bill #2: Amends 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.

Document #3

Description: Bill #3: Amends 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.

Document #4

Description: Bill #4: Amends 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.