Tim’s Law & Public Health Update

Just a quick update for this week…  first of all, Legislative Leadership announced today that, out of an abundance of caution, our sessions for March 13 and March 16 are canceled as we continue to promote social distancing to control the spread of coronavirus.  The current plan is to pick up the legislative session next Tuesday, with further updates to come.  Meanwhile, for the latest news, check out the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services’ Covid-19 web page, which is updated  frequently:

For some great news out of Frankfort, I’m happy to pass along this press release from the Legislative Research Commission about SB 122.  I was delighted to have the opportunity to speak in favor of and vote for this great bill! 

For Immediate Release
March 12, 2020

Tim’s Law changes given final passage
FRANKFORT—The House has given final passage to a bill that would improve treatment for seriously mentally ill patients under a 2017 Kentucky law.
Senate Bill 122, sponsored by Senate Republican Caucus Chair Julie Raque Adams of Louisville, would allow judges to order assisted outpatient treatment for people who have been involuntarily hospitalized at least twice in the past 24 months. That’s an expansion of the current law – known as Tim’s Law – which only allows judges to order the evidenced-based treatment approach for persons involuntarily hospitalized at least twice in the past 12 months.
Rep. Deanna Frazier, R-Richmond, presented the legislation for a vote in the House. She said SB 122 will allow Tim’s Law to be more fully implemented in the Commonwealth.
“Kentucky has not been able to implement (Tim’s Law) to the extent to which it was envisioned due to funding and the reason addressed in SB 122 – that the original criteria were too narrowly drawn,” said Frazier.
By extending the time frame for two involuntary commitments under Tim’s Law from 12 months to 24 months, Frazier said SB 122 will allow Kentucky to be “more in keeping with assisted outpatient treatment laws in other states.” 
Voting in support of SB 122 was Rep. Lisa Willner, D-Louisville, a clinical psychologist who said only one patient has qualified for assisted outpatient treatment under Tim’s Law since its passage in 2017.
“When this is enacted, that’s going to be expanded,” she said. “What’s happened in other states is that they’ve seen a 70-percent reduction in hospitalizations, and an 80-percent reduction in incarcerations for people with severe mental illness who receive assisted outpatient therapy under the law.”
At least 45 states have assisted outpatient treatment laws for people with serious mental illness similar to Tim’s Law, she said. 
Tim’s Law is named for the late Tim Morton, a Lexington man with schizophrenia whose family was unable to force him into outpatient psychiatric treatment.
SB 122 passed the House by a vote of 93-1. After it is enrolled, the bill will be sent to the governor for his signature. The Senate passed the bill on a 33-1 vote in February.