Wis. Assembly OKs mental health proposals

By: Joe Nelson, AP Email
By: Joe Nelson, AP Email

Legislators moved bills forward pushing more mental health care access.

The state assembly passed bills that would encourage more in-home therapy for kids, and would fund more crisis intervention training for police. One bill also encourages doctors and psychiatrists to work in underserved areas with $1.5 million in grant money.

“You might have a better idea why that person is acting the way they are, and how you can approach that, and what might work,” Eau Claire Police Safety Education Officer Andrew Wise said.

He said the department has 12 officers trained in crisis intervention, who then cross trained others, but more funding would help the whole area.

“In our community and in communities across the nation, mental health issues are out there and for our officers to be able to see those things and to truly serve and help that person, is our goal. And that of course reduces recidivism because these people are getting help. Maybe you have less calls for service, and it truly benefits the community,” he said.

A bill encouraging more psychiatrists to work in underserved areas is something Marshfield clinic psychiatrist Mahmoud Ahmed said could greatly benefit those in need.

“The crucial part is access. Relative of the individual to seek and get the help they need on a timely manner. We have waiting lists and it's very difficult with the limited resources we have,” Ahmed said.

“This is another clear indication of how good the medical care and mental health services is good in Wisconsin, and if you compare it to the rest of the country.”

“We want to be a bridge to those people somehow to help them get to the right people to get that help,” Wise said.

Ahmed said there's a major need for more psychiatrists in the state, and more might want to go into the field if the cost of education went down.

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MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The Wisconsin Assembly has approved a bill that would create grants to encourage doctors and psychiatrists to practice in underserved areas.

The bill would lay out $1.5 million in fiscal year 2014-15. The Higher Educational Aids Board would award $750,000 to 12 doctors and $750,000 to 12 psychiatrists who work in an underserved area for at least a year. The providers would be free to use the money for whatever they like.

The bill came out of a series of recommendations from a mental health task force Assembly Speaker Robin Vos appointed.

The Assembly passed the bill 93-0 on Tuesday. It goes next to the state Senate.
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MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The Wisconsin Assembly has passed a bill that would pump more money into the state's efforts to create respite centers for people struggling with mental health problems or drug abuse.

Gov. Scott Walker's budget laid out $1.34 million for the centers, which offer short-term stays and are staffed by people who have grappled with mental health or drug abuse issues themselves. The Republican-authored bill would add $250,000 more to that allotment.

The proposal is part of a package of mental health bills Assembly Republicans are pushing through the Legislature.

The Assembly passed the measure 94-0 on Tuesday. The bill goes next to the state Senate.
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MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The Wisconsin Assembly has passed a bill that would create grants for police and prison guards to form mental health intervention teams.

The bill would lay out $250,000 in grants every two years to train police and correctional officer crisis teams that could deal with mentally ill people or inmates.

The measure comes out of a series of recommendations from a mental health task force Assembly Speaker Robin Vos appointed.

The Assembly passed the bill 94-0 on Tuesday. It goes next to the state Senate.
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MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The Wisconsin Assembly has approved a bill that would expand Medicaid coverage for mental health treatment.

The measure would allow an emotionally disturbed child to access in-home therapy without having to show a failure to succeed in outpatient therapy; allow families to participate in in-home therapy even if a child in that family is enrolled in a day treatment program; and allow Medicaid reimbursement for mental health service providers who work with patients through interactive video and audio links.

The bill came out of recommendations from a mental health task force Assembly Speaker Robin Vos appointed.

The Assembly passed the proposal on a voice vote Tuesday. It goes next to the state Senate.


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