Washington State House Democrats


Freshman Rep. Noel Frame Advances Mental Health Legislation

OLYMPIA – During a year of major advances to the state mental health system, the state legislature passed a law that allowed outpatient treatment as an option for those in need of mental health care in lieu of involuntary treatment. Unfortunately, that law created the unintended consequence of forcing hospitals to design treatment plans when proposing this less restrictive option, when community mental health providers should have that responsibility.

Under a bill proposed by State Representative Noel Frame (D-Seattle), community providers would design the treatment plans, rather than the hospitals who have the original contact with a patient.

Currently the law states that after a court orders assisted outpatient treatment, the patient’s hospital is responsible for designing a plan included in the court order that may consist of: being assigned a care coordinator, psychiatric evaluation, medication, regular visits with their treatment provider, and transition and crisis plans. Rep. Frame’s legislation, HB 2541, instead simply requires that the court order name the community provider responsible for the plan. Bureaucracy and paperwork is cut down as the court isn’t required to be involved when plans change and hospitals can discharge patients faster rather than wait for approval from the courts.

“My colleagues did good work last year and this builds upon their efforts to improve our mental health system,” said Frame. “One size doesn’t fit all, so we need to make sure patients get the care they need in the right setting.”

The bill passed the House Committee on Judiciary yesterday and will be referred to Appropriations.