Lawmakers Unveil Bipartisan Bill on Children’s Mental Health – NBC Connecticut

Democrats and Republicans came together Friday to announce their agreement on the children’s mental health crisis in Connecticut.

They’re proposing a bill that would speed up access to mental health treatment and make it more affordable.

The bipartisan group of lawmakers say it’s their top priority this session.

“When it comes to children and it comes to youth, there is no political label, there is no political party, we all care very, very deeply about our children and the children in this state and their futures,” House Speaker Matt Ritter said.

Ritter said they’ll work to get the 103-page bill over the finish line.

“When you do it this way, when you do it in a bipartisan way, it has staying power,” Ritter said.

The pandemic shed new light on the crisis, and parents have been speaking out on their inability to find a provider.

“Three months is a really long time if your child is in crisis and your family is in crisis and you don’t know how you’ll get through three days,” Rep. Tammy Exum, D-West Hartford, said.

Exum of West Hartford was a member of the working group preparing the bill.

“I also understand what it’s like and you find out your insurance isn’t being accepted or if you get there and you find you have to pay out of pocket and you cannot afford to do so,” Exum said.

Changing how insurance views mental health is part of the bill.

“Is this bill perfect? By no means it’s not. But by bringing it forward to the public hearing process, this framework is now open to the process,” Rep. Tammy Nuccio said.

Nuccio, a Republican, said this needs to be a priority.

“COVID has really exasperated what we’ve seen and what is coming as a mental health crisis, it’s made it 10 times worse, so either we make this a priority or we don’t,” Nuccio said.

What happens in the short-term?

“If you are the parent of a child in need of mental health care, there are places you can go in as little as two hours, two days or two weeks. Those are our urgent care centers, enhanced care clinics,” Linehan said.

Linehan said parents can go to Connectingtocarect.org to find a provider in their area of the state.

As far as the price tag is concerned, there isn’t one.

“I don’t want to talk about spending on children’s mental health, I want to talk about investing in children’s mental health and that’s what we need to do through this legislation,” Linehan said.

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