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Bill to update emergency detention process for mental illness passed by committee

With unanimous support, the House Public Health Committee approved a measure allowing doctors to utilize information provided to medical workers as the basis for an emergency detention application.

When a mentally ill person is “involuntarily” held for care or treatment, an emergency detention is employed. A doctor must file an application stating that there are reasonable grounds to believe the person is “mentally ill and either dangerous or gravely disabled,” necessitating the involuntary detention, in order for someone to be held in this manner.

The plan expands upon last year’s law, which established the procedures for assessing, treating, and even admitting individuals for mental health disorders after they are detained.

House Bill 1216 would no longer need an examination as the foundation for an emergency detention order request; instead, it would enable information from family, friends, or caretakers to serve as the basis.

LifeSpring Health Systems’ president and CEO, Beth Keeney, said that she had previously been “forced” to report individuals in need of mental health assistance to law enforcement, but that the police could not intervene until a situation “required their intervention.”

Sadly, Keeney added, “I told a scared parent of a very sick child to wait until your kid gets sicker.”

According to Keeney, this procedure needs to be accessible to law enforcement as well as behavioral health professionals.

Medicaid reimbursement for services would also have to be mandated under the bill, “regardless of medical necessity criteria.” The prior measure had a problem, according to House Public Health Committee Chair Brad Barrett (R-Richmond), which prevented reimbursements for treatments rendered in “good faith” from reaching institutions or providers.

Assuring reimbursement, according to Indiana Public Defender Council associate executive director Michael Moore, validates the work completed in the area last year.

This is a significant step toward the goal of keeping individuals in crisis out of the criminal justice system and treating them in the medical system, where it is more appropriate, according to Moore.

The bill’s goal, according to lawmakers, is to close the payment “loophole.”

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