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Mental health center proposal sent back to committee for amending

Mental health center proposal sent back to committee for amending

Idaho Freedom Foundation staff
March 5, 2013

"I'm requesting that this bill be sent back for amending," said Sen. Todd Lakey, R-Nampa, in referring to Senate Bill 1114, which would create seven Regional Behavioral Health Centers in the state and grant them a wide array of responsibilities and powers. Each of the Regional Behavioral Health Centers would be operated by a 22-member Regional Behavioral Health Board.

"We need to amend some of the language in this bill," said Sen. Steven Thayn, R-Emmett, to IdahoReporter.com. "There is language in the bill, as it is currently written, that says that the citizens of Idaho are entitled to mental health care. That needs to be changed before we can vote on it."

Lakey's motion to send the bill back for amending was approved unanimously by the full Senate.

The idea of creating the new centers across Idaho was presented earlier this session to committees of both the Senate and the House of Representatives by Ross Edmonds, head of the behavioral health division of the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.

Noting in January before the legislative committees that "We can give a person the best psychiatrist in the state of Idaho, but if that person lives under a bridge, it doesn't do them much good," Edmonds called for expanding the definition of "mental health services" to include taxpayer-funded housing and transportation. The creation of the new regional behavioral health centers was a part of Edmonds' plan.

"We're asking for $466,900—seed money, if you will—to launch new, regional Idaho Behavioral Health Boards," Edmonds told IdahoReporter.com at that time. "The best comparison for what we're proposing is the already existing district health boards. What we're seeking to do is to create seven, free-standing, pseudo-governmental organizations that we'd refer to as Regional Behavioral Health Boards. These boards would oversee these additional services, services that I think of as 'recovery support services.' They are necessary, in order for people with mental illness to live a life of normal community connectedness."

What evolved from Edmonds' requests, Senate Bill 1114, also stipulates that Idaho should provide treatment services for "substance use disorder" and broadly defines this malady as "the misuse or excessive use of alcohol or other drugs or substances that significantly impact an individual's functioning."

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