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House of Representatives
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: May 4, 2021 11:00 AM
From: Representative James B. Struzzi, II
To: All House members
Subject: Solving a Healthcare Crisis
Hospital emergency departments are one of the main entry points to obtaining critical health care services when patients are in crisis. While many emergency departments are improving their ability to effectively assess and triage patients in need of behavioral health care or other long-term care services, hospitals often face long delays in dispositioning patients to appropriate inpatient and outpatient treatment settings causing patients to wait in the emergency department for extended periods of time. I have seen this firsthand in my local community hospital. This lack of process creates undue burdens on hospitals and their staffs while not providing the critical care these patients need.   
Last session, I sponsored HR 268 to authorize the Joint State Government Commission to study this issue and find possible solutions for better access to care and referrals to treatment. From this study, I believe developing a standardized process for our hospitals may be an appropriate starting point.  
Delayed disposition of patients impacts both patients and delivery system outcomes—increasing psychological stress upon patients and their families, delaying treatment that could mitigate the need for inpatient stays, consuming scarce emergency department resources, worsening emergency department crowding and delaying treatment for other emergency department patients.
While systematic barriers to timely placement and access to appropriate behavioral health or other long-term care services are broad and complex, I plan to introduce simple legislation directing the Department of Human Services to develop a statewide process to place patients, enrolled in Medicaid, with behavioral health or other long-term care needs in appropriate care settings in a timely matter. This process includes an escalation clause for cases where patient boarding exceeds an acceptable amount of time.
A similar process has been implemented in Massachusetts.
As a commonwealth, we must begin to address the inadequacies in behavioral health and our healthcare delivery system that prevent patients from being timely discharged to appropriate care settings. This legislative proposal is just one step to make sure our constituents receive the appropriate care, at the appropriate time.
Please join me in cosponsoring this legislation.

Introduced as HB1644