State highlights: Washington state commitment appeals bill divides officials, families; Va. lawmakers disagree on emergency mental health custody; new Wis. mental health board

A selection of health policy stories from Washington state, Virginia, Wisconsin, West Virginia and Florida.

The Seattle Times: Some Mental-Health Officials Oppose Commitment Bill
The proposal, numbered 2725 in the House and 6513 in the Senate, would create a new appeal process for when county officials decline to order an involuntary commitment. In those situations, immediate family members could ask a Superior Court judge about the case (Rosenthal, 2/3).

The Richmond Times-Dispatch: Senate, House Split On Duration Of Emergency Custody
A gap is widening between the Senate and House of Delegates over how long to hold someone involuntarily for a psychiatric evaluation to determine if the person poses a threat to self or others and, if so, find an appropriate psychiatric bed. A Senate Finance subcommittee on Monday endorsed a 24-hour limit on emergency custody orders, which now can last no longer than six hours, while a House committee approved a two-hour extension to no more than eight hours. But senators also are attracted to a third option -; a 12-hour time limit, as recommended by a gubernatorial task force studying gaps in Virginia's mental health system (Martz, 2/4).

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Lawmakers Pledge Quick Action On Milwaukee County Mental Health System
Lawmakers are promising quick action on a bill to curb political influence over Milwaukee County's mental health system by putting medical professionals in charge of directing care. The bill, unveiled Monday, would strip all authority from the County Board and establish a mental health board of 13 people, mostly doctors and people with experience in the mental health system. The members, who would not be paid, would be appointed by the governor to make policy decisions about mental health care (Kissinger and Schultze, 2/3).

Kaiser Health News: From Ethiopia To West Virginia, Community Health Workers Help Close Access-To-Care Gaps
Across the world, countries have started to embrace community health workers as a means of reaching people who don't always have regular access to care through clinics and hospitals. Their titles vary -- India has more than 800,000 "Accredited Social Health Activists" and Malawi employs 11,000 Health Extension Workers -- but the impact seems to be universal. Not only do the workers treat and manage care, they also help curb health care costs by preventing complicated disease and emergency room visits (Rao, 2/4).

Health News Florida: Prestige Wins Medicaid Contracts
With a billion dollars riding on the contested decision, Florida's Agency for Health Care Administration says it will award its Medicaid managed-care contract for Miami-Dade and Monroe counties to Prestige Health Choice. The final order, signed by AHCA Secretary Liz Dudek on Friday, rejects a recommendation from an administrative law judge who held hearings in the case in November (Gentry, 2/3).

http://www.kaiserhealthnews.orgThis article was reprinted from with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.


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