KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Kids Mental Health Cuts At Issue In Mass.; Colo. Mulls Mental Illness ‘Hold’ Laws

Massachusetts officials are planning hearings about the Cambridge Health Alliance's planned cuts to pediatric services -- mainly to mental health care, while Colorado lawmakers consider their "involuntary hold" laws governing the treatment and holding of mentally ill people deemed a danger to themselves or others.

Boston Globe: Hearings Scheduled On Proposed Pediatric-Care Cuts
The Department of Public Health will hold a hearing May 8 on Cambridge Health Alliance’s plans to eliminate 11 of 27 beds for treating children and teens with acute mental illness. Hospital officials said this month that they planned to consolidate their child and adolescent units, the latest in years of steady statewide cuts to pediatric services. While several other hospitals have psychiatry units that serve children of all ages, Cambridge Health Alliance's Child Assessment Unit accounts for nearly one-third of the hospital mental health beds in Massachusetts designated specifically for the younger age group, typically under 12 (Conaboy, 4/17).

Health Policy Solutions (a Colo. news service): Colorado Clarifying Involuntary Hold Laws
Colorado is the only state in the country where three separate laws govern the actions of police, emergency doctors, mental health and substance abuse experts  when patients appear to be a danger to themselves or others and need to be held against their will for 72 hours. A new law winding its way through the legislature … for the first time defines key terms related to involuntary holds including "danger to self or others" and what it means to be "gravely disabled" because of a mental health crisis. Originally intended to meld and clarify the three disparate involuntary commitment laws, the bill instead creates a task force of health and law enforcement experts who will spend the summer studying how best to streamline Colorado’s laws relating to emergency holds. The task force is expected to produce draft legislation for 2014 (Kerwin McCrimmon, 4/17).

In Connecticut, many look for answers on preventing mental illness --

CT Mirror: 'The Single Greatest Preventable Cause Of Mental Illness'
Sometimes the symptoms suggest anxiety or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. But often, the root cause is something else: sexual abuse, domestic violence, the loss of a parent, surviving a car accident, or another form of trauma. "Trauma is missed all the time because the lay person doesn't really recognize the connection between a child or adolescent's misbehavior and how that misbehavior can be a result of a traumatic incident that happened to them," said Kane, a psychologist and vice president for child services at Waterbury-based Wellmore Behavioral Health (Becker, 4/17).

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