Advocacy E-News September 25, 2014
September 25, 2014
BILL DEFINING DRUG ADDICTION AS A MENTAL ILLNESS PASSES COMMITTEE
People could be ordered by courts to participate in outpatient treatment if their drug addiction puts their lives or the lives of others in danger, under a bill approved by a state Assembly panel Thursday. The measure was strongly supported by parents who have lost children to an overdose. Currently an addiction diagnosis alone does not qualify for admission into the state’s involuntary outpatient treatment program, which gives a judge discretion to decide whether people can be ordered to attend therapy to protect them from hurting themselves or others or destroying property.
SHORTAGE OF PSYCHIATRIC BEDS CREATES BOTTLENECK
New Jersey mental health advocates say a shortage of beds in psychiatric hospitals is causing long wait times and chaotic conditions in the state’s screening units, where people in crisis are evaluated before being committed. The screening centers are located in regular hospitals throughout the state, and are operated by mental health providers. However once a person is found to need hospitalization, there’s often no place for them to go.
BOARDING HOMES TARGET OF BILL REQUIRING STATE TO POST REPORTS
State and local officials would be given 72 hours to post inspection reports online for boarding homes and shelters that fail inspection for violating health and safety codes, under a bill that passed a state Assembly committee today. The state Department of Human Services would also be notified of the facilities that rack up of serious offenses, according to the bill, (A3175) so the agency that places homeless people with mental illnesses may make the most informed choice.
DEMOLITION OF GREYSTONE TO START ‘WITHIN A MONTH’
The company that will be demolishing the former Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital in Parsippany is expected to begin its work “within a month,” according to Morris County Administrator John Bonanni. Demolition of the building had been vigorously opposed by preservation groups that wanted to keep the Kirkbride Building intact as a mental health historic landmark, but state officials said the plans they reviewed to redevelop the property would have been too costly.
MEDICAID GIVES THE POOR A REASON TO SAY NO THANKS
While Medicaid, our safety net program for the poor, has used cost-sharing mechanisms for some time, it has been prohibited from asking people to pay premiums. In the last couple of years, federal regulators have started lifting that prohibition, which is likely to lead to some negative consequences.
Cost-sharing mechanisms are specifically intended to encourage people to consume less health care. Premiums, however, are different. They are not a means to influence whether or not an individual uses services. They’re a means to purchase insurance. It is for this reason that, until recently, premiums were not allowed in any Medicaid programs. Nevertheless, a number of states are now, for the first time, asking recipients to pay a premium for their Medicaid.
CLASS BRIDGES GAP BETWEEN LAW ENFORCEMENT, MENTAL HEALTH
No matter the scenario, should police officer Bobby Paulus respond to a crisis situation involving someone who is mentally ill, he is confident he has the tools necessary to help. Paulus was one of 24 Warren County law enforcement officers, security personnel and mental health professionals who recently completed a weeklong course designed to teach them how to recognize and respond to mental illness and psychiatric emergencies.
Patterned after a program launched in 1988 in Memphis, Tennessee, Crisis Intervention Teams have been installed in thousands of police departments nationwide. In New Jersey, it began in 2006 after the death of mentally ill person who had been in jail.