Kentucky legislature seeking more outpatient care for mentally ill
The Kentucky General Assembly is considering an expansion of assisted outpatient treatment. It’s being proposed, in part, as a way to reduce the number of mentally ill inmates.
House Bill 127 moved from committee to the House floor late last week. The measure calls for cleanup changes to Tim’s Law. First adopted in 2017, it allows people with the worst symptoms of mental illness to get into outpatient care, instead of cycling through state hospitals and jails. Louisville Representative Lisa Willner said this bill extends eligibility. “Assisted Outpatient Treatment has been shown to disrupt the cycle of involuntary hospitalizations to houselessness and life on the streets to arrests to incarceration,” said Willner.
Willner said the measure expands eligibility, but keeps in place quote, “high-bar guardrails” before moving to court-ordered treatment. Jefferson County District Judge Stephanie Burke noted this legislation would pertain to a very small percentage of Kentuckians. “This is a very humane way of dealing with this population. It’s fiscally responsible. It relieves the burden on many different parts of the system from law enforcement to the court system to hospitals to the mental health system,” explained Burke.
Bill Sponsor Ken Fleming told panel members this adoption could result in significant Medicaid savings. He labeled it a moral obligation to help these individuals.