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Bill Expands Alternatives to Mental Hospitalization

Laura Nicholes
TAC Legislative Staff

Rep. Ruth McClendon (D-San Antonio) filed House Bill 2401, relating to the provision of community-based services to individuals who have or may have mental illness. The bill amends Health and Safety Code, Ch. 534 to require the Department of State Health Services (DSHS) to provide community-based alternatives to inpatient hospitalization in each service area. 

Currently, there are counties or regions in the state where alternative outpatient programs are not available and consumers must be transported far from their communities and families to receive short-term treatment. HB 2401 is an effort to safely, appropriately and more efficiently serve consumers by establishing alternatives to inpatient commitment in state mental hospitals. The availability of services must be designed to reduce a patient’s acute symptoms of mental illness and any other services necessary to prevent a patient’s admission to an inpatient mental health facility. Available services must include crisis stabilization, short-term residential treatment, and medical and nursing services. DSHS will contract with local mental health authorities to provide community-based alternatives to inpatient hospitalization. 

DSHS will be required to provide funding for the cost of ensuring the availability of community-based alternatives to inpatient hospitalization to the extent those costs are not paid from the Texas Health Care Transformation and Quality Improvement Program 1115 waiver.  Funding riders have been submitted to House Appropriations.

HB 2401 has been referred to the House Committee on Public Health.