Legislative news – 02/16/2012
Funnel deadline approaching
The week before the first funnel deadline was dominated by subcommittees and the visit of the vice president of China. Work concluded early at the Capitol on Wednesday to accommodate the state dinner being held in the rotunda. Next week, all bills, except for appropriations or ways and means bills, must pass a committee in one chamber to remain alive for consideration.
Mental Health Reform Progresses
Work began on the three mental health reform bills in both the House and the Senate. The goal is to move all three bills out of committee next week with the understanding that more work is needed on the larger bill that would redesign the delivery system. Below is a summary of the two bills of interest to IMHCA members and their current status.
SSB3137/HSB 623: These bills implement the recommendations of the judicial-DHS workgroup on commitment proceedings. They are largely non-controversial and both were discussed this week during subcommittees. One issue raised in earlier emails will be addressed in both the House and the Senate. The bills will eliminate the two different definitions of a mental health provider and rely solely on the definition contained in Chapter 228. During drafting, the bill inadvertently eliminated the ability for a physician to consult or work with another mental health provider. This will be fixed by amendments to both bills. Once adopted into law, LMHCs will be allowed to partner with physicians during pre-screening and other evaluations of those subject to a 229 (mental health) or 225 (substance abuse) committal. Other changes that the subcommittees will make include adding psychiatric physician assistants to the definition of a mental health provider. IMHCA is currently registered undecided on both bills but will change that registration to support once the amended versions are introduced.
SSB 3152/HSB 630: These bills are at the heart of the redesign of the delivery system for mental health services currently provided at the county level. The Senate held a subcommittee on this bill but the House has yet to meet on their version. However, both sides are now saying publicly that they will temporarily restore the county mental health property tax levy for a period of four years. This is recognition of the potential cost to the state general fund as well as the push by counties to maintain some financial stake and control of the system. The Senate subcommittee identified several issues that need to be addressed before the bill can move forward including:
The issue of provider representation on the regional governance panels was raised but there are differing opinions among the various providers as to whether or not this should occur. IMHCA continues to stress that providers should be represented on these panels.
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