New Hampshire Hospital Association President, Steve Ahnen, testified in support of SB 11 to make immediate investments in New Hampshire's mental health care system.
Last Friday there were 25 adults and 4 children in an acute psychiatric crisis waiting in hospital emergency rooms to be transferred to the appropriate setting for the care they so desperately need and deserve.
The Emergency Department (ED) waitlist is a symptom of a much broader, systemic problem—that we simply do not have adequate resources across the entire system to care for those with a mental health issue, from outpatient services to acute inpatient services, housing, crisis services and more. While we must address the challenges across the entire mental health system, we absolutely must solve the crisis for those in an acute psychiatric crisis who are forced to wait days, sometimes weeks, to be transferred to the appropriate setting for their care. This boarding crisis has gone on for far too long, and on behalf of these patients and their families, we must do all we can to ensure it does not continue.
SB 11 takes an important step in that direction.
SB 11 would:
- make available capital funds to support hospitals or other health care organizations to make the necessary renovations to create designated receiving facility (DRF) units that can accept and serve patients in an acute psychiatric crisis;
- increase the rates paid for services provided in new and existing DRF units that are adequate and allow those organizations to sustain those services over time;
- allow for an increase in rates for voluntary inpatient psychiatric services;
- increase the number of transitional housing beds in the State to support those patients as they recover and move back into the community following an inpatient admission or mental health crisis;
- require payments from insurance carriers for their members in an acute psychiatric crisis who are waiting in hospital EDs to be transferred to the appropriate setting for their care; and
- would require the DHHS Commissioner to enter into rulemaking regarding the hearings for those involuntarily committed to the State mental health system.
These are all very important provisions that will begin to move us in the direction of addressing the mental health crisis facing our State and those suffering from a mental illness.