Say NO to S.2785, An Act to provide more timely treatment of inpatient mental health care

In May, legislators completely rewrote S.1246/H.1994, An Act to Provide More Timely Treatment, and gave it a new bill number. It is now known as S.2785, An Act to Provide More Timely Treatment.

The bill was then voted favorably out of the Joint Committee on Mental Health, Substance Use and Recovery almost before anyone even knew such a dramatic change in the bill content had been made. It now sits with the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing. This is quite unusual and concerning.

This bill is extremely problematic. Not only did it completely bypass opportunity for a public hearing, but its content seeks to gut some of the very limited rights protections currently available to people being held in psychiatric facilities against their will.

The Rogers ruling put in place protections for people being held involuntarily, including a) a protection against the assumption that someone is automatically incompetent to make an informed decision about treatment simply based on their being held involuntarily; and b) a protection against providers doing something that could be against their fundamental beliefs even if they are incompetent. These protections come in the form of a) a requirement for a competence hearing to determine whether or not someone is able to make an informed decision; and b) the substituted judgement principle which says that even if they are found incompetent through a court hearing, the court still has a responsibility to look at what they were likely to decide (based on religious and other closely held beliefs, efficacy of the proposed treatment, etc.) were they competent.

Perhaps worst of all, this proposed change is based on faulty assumptions and bad science all designed to convince everyone that pushing this change through is "the right thing."

Even if we are successful in stopping this bill this year, it is highly likely to keep resurfacing and continue to gain steam. Our response needs to be swift, clear and loud to help inform legislators as to why it is so problematic and stop this bill and others like it from continuing to put critical freedoms and best practices at risk.

Sponsored by