R 211
2017 -- S 0328
Enacted 04/27/2017

S E N A T E   R E S O L U T I O N

Introduced By: Senators Sheehan, Miller, Nesselbush, Crowley, and Goodwin
Date Introduced: February 16, 2017

     WHEREAS, Mental health and substance use disorders can have a powerful effect on the
health of individuals, their families, and their communities. These disorders can create various
degrees of disability and carry a high burden of disease, resulting in significant costs to families,
employers, and publicly funded health systems; and
     WHEREAS, According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services
Administration (SAMHSA), less than half of the approximately 175,000 Rhode Islanders with
mental illness sought treatment in 2014; and
     WHEREAS, In 2015, there were 125 suicides in Rhode Island. This represents an almost
fifty percent increase in annual suicides in Rhode Island in the past decade; and
     WHEREAS, Given the gravity of the problem, Rhode Island's vision is to ensure that all
of its residents have the opportunity to achieve the best possible mental and behavioral health and
well-being within healthy local communities that promote empowerment, inclusion, and shared
responsibility; and
     WHEREAS, A priority of the Rhode Island Senate has been to enhance the mental health
service system in Rhode Island. These issues are complex and finding solutions requires creative
and comprehensive approaches; and
     WHEREAS, In the fall of 2016, the Senate Health and Human Services Committee held a
series of five hearings to hear from stakeholders and to assess the status of mental health services
in Rhode Island; and
     WHEREAS, Based on these hearings, the Senate Health and Human Services Committee
identified issues and suggested recommendations for legislative action that are compiled in a
report; now, therefore be it
     RESOLVED, That this Senate of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations
hereby respectfully requests that Executive Offices of Health and Human Services (EOHHS)
submit a status report on the following identified areas of mental health service needs:
     ( Identify relevant statutes and regulations that require physician level providers to
make mental health treatment referrals, and update these statutes and regulations where
appropriate to allow referrals from additional categories of mental health professionals;
     ( Streamline and clarify RIDOH provider license reciprocity regulations to address the
shortage of mental health professionals;
     ( Disseminate clinical guidelines on best practices for clinicians who care for pregnant
women to screen for maternal depression during and after pregnancy;
     ( Disseminate clinical guidelines for screening and treatment of depression and other
mental health conditions across the lifespan, including children and the elderly;
     ( Utilize The Rhode Island Children's Cabinet to raise awareness of early childhood
adversity, trauma, and toxic stress, and provide professional development opportunities on trauma
and informed best practices for professionals in all disciplines who work with young children and
their families;
     ( Propose potential solutions to improve the Integrated Health Home (IHH) and
Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) Medicaid managed care program reimbursement
timeline for mental health providers;
     ( Support the development of a comprehensive and effective Olmstead plan for placing
qualified people with mental disabilities in less restrictive settings;
     ( Work with the Office of the Health Insurance Commissioner (OHIC) to propose
strategies to accomplish mental health payment reform and parity with an emphasis on exploring
the impact of out of pocket costs on access to mental health services;
     ( Develop standards for the application of waivers for disqualifying information on
background checks for peer specialists and recovery coaches;
     ( Support efforts to ensure that a portion of funds from 2016's $50M Affordable
Housing Bond is used to support housing for individuals with mental illness who do not have
     ( Expand forensics capacity at Eleanor Slater Hospital to improve the treatment of
inmates with serious mental illness;
     ( Develop a strategy to increase capacity and reduce obstacles to the use of Crisis
Stabilization Units (or similar model) that serve as alternatives to unnecessary emergency
department visits for mental health issues;
     ( Support the efforts of the Governor's Overdose Prevention and Intervention Task
Force Emergency Department and Hospital Standards for Opioid Safety; develop a plan to
expand the scope of this project to include standards for mental health care; and ensure that the
proposed tiered emergency department standards include adequate safeguards for appropriate
transfers of care;
     ( Encourage mental health professionals working at Federally Qualified Health Centers
(FQHCs) to apply to the National Health Services Corps' (NHSC) student loan forgiveness
     ( Develop a plan to raise the entry level wages of BHDDH mental health and
behavioral health direct care workers to a minimum of $15 per hour by 2022; and
     ( Explore potential funding options for mobile outreach efforts which provide
screening and access to services to persons living on the street; and be it further
     RESOLVED, That this Senate hereby respectfully requests that the Secretary of the
Executive Offices of Health and Human Services (EOHHS) provide recommendations and
accompanying fiscal analysis; and be it further
     RESOLVED, That this Senate hereby respectfully requests that the written
recommendations be submitted to the Senate President and to the Chair of the Senate Committee
on Health and Human Services within 60 days of the passage of this resolution; and be it further
     RESOLVED, That the Secretary of State be and hereby is authorized and directed to
transmit a duly certified copy of this resolution to the Secretary of the Executive Offices of
Health and Human Services (EOHHS).