MHA supports legislation that bolsters our mission by:
- Improving the community’s understanding of mental health.
- Ensuring mental health parity.
- Increasing access to treatment, and improving support and treatment, especially where reform is needed.
- Allocating much-needed funding to the mental health system in Delaware.
- Improving the community’s awareness of suicide as a public health program, and seeking to facilitate the collaboration of multiple agencies working together to reduce rates of suicide.
Recent legislation relevant to the mission of the Mental Health Association in Delaware includes the following:
The Non-Opioids Prevent Addiction in the Nation Act (“NOPAIN Act”) (S. 586) was reintroduced in the senate in 2021 in order to combat the opioid epidemic which has increased during the COVID pandemic. This bipartisan legislation is designed to increase utilization of non-opioid pain management approaches by addressing outdated federal reimbursement policies. This bill would ensure safe, non-addictive therapies are widely available to the tens of millions of Americans who undergo an outpatient surgical procedure every year. This policy change aims to reduce unnecessary exposure to opioids and the likelihood of opioid abuse or addiction following an acute pain incident. It would not reduce the availability of opiate pain relievers but would rather ensure the availability of safer alternatives.
SB 34 created a Prescription Opioid Impact Fund through a prescription opioid impact fee that is paid by pharmaceutical manufacturer. The Act provides that the Secretary of the Department of Health and Social Services, after receiving recommendations from the Behavioral Health Consortium, the Addiction Action Committee, and the Overdose System of Care Committee, will award grants and contracts from the money in the Fund for the following activities: 1. Opioid addiction prevention. 2. Opioid addiction services, including the following: 3. Inpatient and outpatient treatment programs and facilities, including short-term and long-term residential treatment programs and sober living facilities. 4. Treating substance use disorder for the under-insured and uninsured. 5. Emergency assistance relating to prescription opioids, including purchasing Naloxone. 6. Administrative costs of implementing the Fee and Fund, up to 15% of the amount in the Fund. Finally, this Act expires in 5 years, unless terminated sooner or extended by the General Assembly, so that the Fee is only continued if it is effective and is not creating negative unintended consequences. The Act was passed and signed by the Governor in June of 2019.
Step therapy protocols are a mechanism by which health insurance companies require patients to try one or more prescriptions drugs before coverage is provided for the actual drug prescribed by the patient’s health care provider. HB 105 creates a Step Therapy Exception Process whereby patients who are required by their insurance company to go through step therapy protocols can, under certain circumstances, bypass step therapy to obtain the initially-prescribed medication. The Act was passed and signed by the Governor on June 18, 2019.
HB 220 adds coverage for Medication Assisted Treatment (“MAT”) for drug and alcohol dependencies to the mental health parity laws for health insurance. This Act requires health insurance carriers to provide coverage for prescription medications approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for MAT at no greater financial burden than for prescription medication for other illness or disease, without step therapy requirements, and at the lowest tier of the drug formulary. This Act also makes technical corrections to conform existing law to the standards of the Delaware Legislative Drafting Manual. The bill was passed on June 30, 2019.
On September 10, 2018, Governor Carney signed three bills into law aimed at fighting the addiction epidemic and saving lives in Delaware. HS #1 for House Bill 440 creates an overdose system of care, Senate Bill 206 strengthens data sharing regarding the Prescription Monitoring Program to improve patient care, and Senate Bill 225, encourages providers and patients to utilize effective, non-opioid treatments for pain. These changes were all recommendations of the Behavioral Health Consortium and the Addiction Action Committee.
Senate Bill 245 established a Behavioral and Mental Health Commission to provide oversight to the state of Delaware’s behavioral and mental health care system, identify gaps in the system, and make periodic recommendations for improvement of the system. The Commission will also include a peer-review subcommittee. The bill was signed by the governor on September 6, 2016. View the text of SB 245 https://legiscan.com/DE/text/SB245/2015
Senate Bill 281 codifies the Delaware Suicide Prevention Coalition, whose mission is to reduce the rate of suicide in Delaware by implementing a state-wide plan developed by the coalition, which reflects the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention. The bill was signed by the governor on September 6, 2016.
House Bill 90 requires that all Delaware middle and high schools implement 90 minutes of suicide prevention education for their staff. The bill was signed by the governor on June 8, 2015. View the text of HB90 (https://legiscan.com/DE/text/HB90/2015)