KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Lines Drawn Over San Francisco Court-Ordered Outpatient Mental Illness Treatment

Elsewhere, a program in Wisconsin assigns peer specialists to help those with mental illness reintegrate into society, cuts to mental health programs in Iowa haven't materialized and North Carolina lawmakers look for ways to prevent suicide.

Los Angeles Times: San Francisco Is Likely To Approve Laura’s Law Mental Health Program
Family members of those who have suffered multiple mental health crises and refuse help or fail to stick with it are begging for a Laura's Law program -- which could court-order the intractably ill into outpatient treatment. Police officers and firefighters who see the same people cycle through hospitalizations and jail want it too. Then there are the mental health consumers who are well enough to speak of the trauma inflicted by coercive care. It doesn't work, they say. It drives people from treatment (Romney, 7/6).

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Peer Specialist Draws On Own Struggles To Stem Mental Health Crisis
If Milwaukee County is going to slow the revolving door on its psychiatric hospital, it will need more people like Fraser Hartig. Hartig can do what few doctors or nurses can: Speak from experience. "I struggle with my mental illness. They struggle with theirs," said Hartig, 26, a soft-spoken guy with dark brown eyes and a scruffy goatee. "We are the same." Hartig is part of a program launched by the county in September 2012 known as CLASP, the Community Linkages and Stabilization Program. The goal is to promote recovery in the community by assigning peer specialists such as Hartig to those who are being discharged from the county psychiatric hospital (Kissinger, 7/5).

Des Moines Register: Feared Mental Health Cuts Didn’t Materialize In Iowa
Local officials are tamping down their skepticism about a new way of organizing mental health services for tens of thousands of Iowans. Front-line administrators had worried that the statewide reorganization would lead to cuts in programs, but such fears are easing as the new plan takes hold. The state's 99 counties used to be responsible for their own mental health systems unless they voluntarily partnered with neighbors. They now have joined 15 regional authorities, which formally took control Tuesday (Leys, 7/5).

North Carolina Health News: Lawmakers Call For Action On Reducing Suicides 
The North Carolina House of Representatives passed a resolution Wednesday authorizing legislative staff to study ways to prevent suicide among minors and veterans in the state. Lawmakers listened as Rep. Carla Cunningham (D-Charlotte), one of the resolution’s sponsors, struggled to contain her emotions as she described her son’s struggle with mental illness and developmental disabilities (Singh, 7/3).

In Florida, the state becomes the first to offer a major Medicaid plan that caters to those with mental illnesses --

Kaiser Health News: Florida Shifts Medicaid Mental Health Strategy
Seeking to improve care and lower costs, Florida this month became the first state to offer a Medicaid health plan designed exclusively for people with serious mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia, major depression or bipolar conditions. The plan -- offered by Avon, Conn.-based Magellan Complete Care -- is part of a wave of state experimentation to coordinate physical and mental health care for those enrolled in Medicaid (Galewitz, 7/7).

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