Rep. Nuccio Supports Bipartisan Mental Health Legislation
Posted on April 28, 2022
HARTFORD – During the House Session on Wednesday, April 27th, State Representative Tammy Nuccio (R-53) advocated for the passage of HB 5001 “An Act Concerning Children’s Mental Health.” The legislation seeks to address both the immediate and long-term needs of the state’s mental health systems.
As a member of the bipartisan working group that crafted the legislation, Rep. Nuccio noted, “The past two years of the pandemic and corresponding response have exacerbated our state’s mental health crisis, especially among our children and young adults.”
Rates of depression, suicide, substance abuse and suicide increased significantly in recent years exposing the shortfalls with the state’s current mental and behavioral health infrastructure. Emergency rooms across Connecticut are inundated with patients awaiting placement into inpatient psychiatric beds. Additionally, schools across the state are facing a shortage of mental health professionals.
The wide-ranging legislation aims to address the youth mental health crisis and support children and families through the following measures:
Enhancing the Behavioral Health Workforce
Creates a partnership with Connecticut Children’s to co-ordinate a training program for pediatricians to treat early-stage mental health concerns.
Provides funding for the recruitment and retention of child and adolescent psychologists to address the state shortage.
Expands License reciprocity for out of state mental health professionals to increase the number of providers and establishes a need-based state licensure fee scholarship with a focus on diverse applicants.
Establishes grant program for local school boards, youth camps, and summer programs to hire mental health specialists.
Creates a screening tool for pediatricians and emergency room physicians to recognize mental health concerns in children for early intervention.
“The incentives for recruiting child and adolescent mental health specialists and psychiatrists are particularly important as we require a robust workforce to provide these services. This measure will help attract professionals to our state and improve the accessibility and affordability of these services for years to come,” commented Rep. Nuccio.
Expanding Behavioral Health Treatment Facilities Across the State
Creates an intensive outpatient counseling pilot program in Waterbury for a federally qualified health center to provide treatment for adolescents with behavioral health The program, slated to open before Fall 2022, will serve at least 144 children per year.
Supports opening of the new DCF Urgent Crisis Centers specializing in meeting urgent pediatric behavioral health needs.
Expands ACCESS Mental Health to provide up to three follow-up telehealth visits directly to certain patients after a pediatrician has first utilized ACCESS Mental Health on behalf of a patient and to provide short term care coordination services, through a contractor, for all patients on whose behalf ACCESS Mental Health is utilized.
Increasing Access Through Insurance Coverage
Eliminates prior authorization for inpatient psychiatric services in certain circumstances where there is imminent danger in the patient’s health or safety, or the health or safety or safety others.
Requires individual and group health insurers to cover intensive evidence-based services used to treat mental and behavioral health conditions in children and adolescents.
Requires individual and group insurers to cover collaborative care for behavioral
Rep. Nuccio concluded, “This bill demonstrates the legislature’s commitment to prioritize mental health by offering immediate support for those in need and making strides towards long-term solutions to help provide adequate care while also gathering data to ensure we are investing in the correct initiatives.”
The bill was passed with a unanimous vote and awaits further action in the State Senate before the conclusion of the legislative session on May 4th. The proposal can be tracked using the General Assembly website at www.cga.ct.gov.