Senate Health Committee Acts on WHA-Supported Bills
Hospitals Praise Legislature’s Commitment to Improve Mental Health Services
Mary Kay Grasmick, 608-274-1820
MADISON (January 15, 2014) --- The Wisconsin Hospital Association praised the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services for recommending the passage of a number of mental health-related bills, including two that are Wisconsin Hospital Association priorities – the Mental Health Care Coordination Bill (SB 360/AB 453) and Emergency Detention Reform (AB 488).
SB 360 and AB 453 were introduced by a strong bipartisan list of legislators, led by Senators Leah Vukmir, Tim Carpenter and Jennifer Shilling and Representatives Erik Severson and Sandy Pasch.
“While the views and treatment of mental illness have evolved, our laws have not kept pace with that change. WHA is very pleased to see the bipartisan support for the Mental Health Care Coordination Bill,” said WHA Executive Vice President Eric Borgerding. “This bill removes barriers to care coordination for individuals with mental illness that do not exist for physical illnesses.”
AB 488 was introduced by Senator Paul Farrow and Representative John Jagler and reforms Wisconsin’s emergency detention law to better enable court review of requests to initiate an emergency detention using the existing three-party petition process. The bill addresses a problem highlighted in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s recent “Chronic Crisis” series in which families are unable to ask a court to consider an order for involuntary care of a loved one unless the county corporation counsel supported the petition.
“Wisconsin’s behavioral health care system is facing serious challenges. Identifying tangible problems and finding solutions to help remove barriers to a more modern, accessible, integrated and consistent mental health system for Wisconsin is one of WHA’s top priorities,” according to Borgerding. “We want to thank Chair Vukmir and the Senate Health and Human Services Committee for taking action on these important reforms that will help improve outcomes for individuals with mental illness.”
The bills will now move to the Senate, which is expected to pass this legislation next week.