What They’re Watching: Sen. Arnie Roblan

Senator Arnie Roblan represents Oregon’s 5th Senate District on the central Oregon Coast. Roblan serves as Chair of the Senate Committee on Mental Health and is a member of the Joint Committee on Ways & Means, among other committee appointments. He joins us in this edition of “What They’re Watching” to discuss mental health legislation in the 2020 legislative session.


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“My real goal is to make sure that we put mental health in the priority that it needs to be put in our state. We have an enormous opportunity to help a lot of people make changes in their lives and give them the services they need to be productive members of our society. We haven’t done a very good job of that in the past. And so, this session is really to highlight that issue, and to start really having a conversation about how do we integrate the mental and physical health priorities so that people can go to a place and get the help they need in a timely manner and in the most efficient way.

So, in that vein, the conversations that have come up for me in the last 3 or 4 months since I was appointed to the Chair of the Mental Health Committee have been around workforce. If you don’t have the workforce it’s really hard to do it. We have interesting little problems like if I’m a behavioral health nurse and I know how to take care of mental health issues and I know how to take care of issues with regard to addiction, I can’t charge for both of those. There’s a whole sort of interesting issues with regard to how people are funded, where they come from how much they’re funded, and what’s their rate.

We’re also looking at our community behavioral health clinics — the new federal program that’s been only going for a couple of years. They basically ran out of money so they need $15 to $20 million to finish out this year. And then, it looks like the federal government’s going to reauthorize them. They’re a little early…I went out to Burns with my Vice Chair to look at a program out in Burns. [It was] very impressive. They believe it’s working really well, but they’re so new we don’t really have the data yet to show that they are the best method or one of the better methods. So, figuring out how to fund that and make sure that those priorities continue to be exemplified.”