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House of Representatives
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: December 23, 2020 06:07 PM
From: Representative Margo L. Davidson
To: All House members
Subject: Mental Health System Reform Legislation
We are in the midst of a mental health crisis as the pandemic and soaring unemployment is causing a great deal of trauma in our communities in Pennsylvania and across the country. 

Not long ago, a story in the Philadelphia Inquirer detailed 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 support and services to assist loved ones in crisis. This package of legislation will invest in practices that help break the tragic cycle of mental health crisis, inadequate care and inappropriate incarceration.

Therefore, I ask that you join me in co-sponsoring this important package of legislation that will finally bring parity for illnesses that affect the brain as well as the body.

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 three types of treatment – Hospitalization, Partial-Hospitalization and IOP (Intensive-Out-Patient). This dangerous and tragic 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 crisis on parity with emergency medical care.