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State House Passes Bill Supporting Behavioral Health Care Transitions

May 25, 2022

State representatives passed legislation today to help facilitate access to behavioral health services and enable Pennsylvania to begin measuring and tracking the scope of the behavioral health crisis.

House Bill 1644 now heads to the state Senate for consideration. The measure, sponsored by state Representative Jim Struzzi (R-Indiana), would establish complex care transition teams to help when inpatient, psychiatric residential treatment, or other settings are unable to discharge patients.

The bill is a key component of HAP’s behavioral health advocacy, which also includes bolstering home-based and community services by increasing county mental health funding in the 2022-2023 state budget, ensuring hospitals receive support and sufficient payments for behavioral health care, and other important steps in a long-term effort to expand access to care.

House Bill 1644 would implement accountability measures for Behavioral Health Medicaid Managed Care Organizations (BH-MCO), specifically:

  • Requiring BH-MCO to devote resources to help hospitals find placements for individuals currently “boarded” in an emergency department or inpatient unit
  • Providing that, if a placement is not found within 24 hours, a case must be referred to the Department of Human Services (DHS), which must work with the BH-MCO and others until an appropriate placement is identified
  • Permitting—for the first time—DHS to track and measure the scope of the problem, gathering data that would inform public policies to improve behavioral health access in Pennsylvania

For more information, contact Heather Tyler, HAP’s vice president for state legislative advocacy.