On Aug. 17th, Rep. Graham Filler (R-St. Johns) introduced a bill to streamline the screening process for potential admission to inpatient psychiatric care for behavioral and mental health patients.
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House Bill 6355 would require preadmission screening units operated by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services or Community Mental Health services programs to perform a mental health assessment within 3 hours of being notified by a hospital, community mental health services program, crisis stabilization unit, or other designated entity, of a patient’s need.
The bill would also allow for a “clinically qualified individual” to perform an assessment for that entity in the event that the preadmission screening unit is unable to perform the assessment within 3 hours. Hospital staff would be reimbursed if they provide the preadmission screening.
The bill also allows preadmission assessments to be performed through telehealth services.
The Michigan Health and Hospital Association (MHA) issued a statement in support of the bill:
“The MHA supports HB 6355 because it addresses the ongoing issue of long wait times for emergency department behavioral and mental health patients,” the statement reads. “This legislation should help shorten the difficult wait times between the evaluation and beginning services.”
A 2018 report published by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services found that emergency departments across the state were largely ill-equipped to handle individuals experiencing a behavioral health crisis.
“Those in a crisis require adequate and timely access to care,” reads the report. “But when emergency departments (EDs) are ill-equipped to handle these challenges, individuals are left waiting for days or sometimes weeks to receive appropriate treatment referrals … Most emergency departments are ill-equipped to address the challenges of individuals in a mental health crisis, including the complexities of their co-occurring substance abuse, health conditions, and/or developmental disabilities. Limited community behavioral health capacity also increases the strain on the emergency department and exposes their deficiencies in providing comprehensive behavioral health treatment.”
The report found that in Michigan, “substantial numbers of ED visits from people with a principal mental health diagnosis created immense pressure on emergency departments and contributed to boarding of psychiatric patients.”
“ED boarding” refers to the process of keeping behavioral health patients in the ED for inordinate amounts of time before receiving an appropriate treatment referral.
HB 6355 currently awaits a second reading in the House Health Policy Committee.