KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

After Newtown Shootings, Advocates Hoping For Major Infusion In Mental Health Spending

Supporters of broader access to mental health care see the current debate as an opportunity to reverse long-time budget cuts across the country. Meanwhile in Texas, some mental health activists are seeking changes in detention policies.

The Washington Post: After Newtown, Support For Mental-Health Spending Grows
Mental-health advocates from coast to coast are seizing upon a rare and unexpected chance to stem the years-long tide of budget cuts and plug gaps in the nation's patchwork mental-health care system. In the wake of the massacre in Newtown, Conn., lawmakers from both parties, along with notoriously tight-belted governors, are pushing to restore some of the estimated $4.3 billion in mental-health spending that was slashed from state budgets between 2009 and 2012. At the same time, they are weighing new initiatives, such as adding beds at psychiatric hospitals and improving treatment for inmates with behavioral disorders (Dennis and Sun, 2/23).

The Texas Tribune/New York Times: Advocates Seek Mental Health Changes, Including Power To Detain
Hospitals do not have legal authority to detain people who voluntarily enter their facilities in search of mental health care but then decide to leave. It is one of many holes in the state's nearly 30-year-old mental health code that advocates, police officers and judges say lawmakers need to fix. In a report last year, Texas Appleseed, a nonprofit advocacy organization, called on lawmakers to replace the existing code with one that reflects contemporary mental health needs (Grissom, 2/23).

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