Apr. 26, 2022

HARRISBURG – The House Human Services Committee today advanced legislation authored by Rep. Jim Struzzi (R-Indiana) that would better ensure timely and appropriate care for patients with behavioral health care needs.

“The need for this legislation became apparent due to the many patients in need of care sitting in hospital emergency rooms across the state waiting to be assessed and assigned appropriate treatment for behavioral health care or other long-term care services,” said Struzzi. “Hospitals are doing their best, but the lack of a standardized process has created undue burdens on hospitals while not providing the timely care these patients need.”

House Bill 1644 would direct the Department of Human Services to develop a statewide process to place patients enrolled in Medicaid with behavioral health or other long-term care needs in appropriate care settings in a timely matter. The process would include an escalation clause for cases where patients sitting in the hospital emergency department exceeds an acceptable amount of time.

To view Struzzi’s comments before the committee, go here

“Keeping individuals in emergency rooms for extended periods of time is extremely costly to the hospital which may not even be properly equipped to handle the type or level of health care services the individual needs,” Struzzi said. “My legislation will expediate access to care for patients for the benefit of both the individuals and the hospital system.”

The idea for a statewide process was born from a study conducted by the Joint State Government Commission under legislation sponsored by Struzzi last session. A similar process has also been implemented in Massachusetts.

“As a Commonwealth, we must begin to address the inadequacies in behavioral health and our health care delivery system that prevent patients from being timely discharged to appropriate care settings,” said Stuzzi. “This legislative proposal is just one step to make sure our constituents receive the appropriate care at the appropriate time.”

House Bill 1644 is supported by the Hospital and Healthsystem Association of PA and the Rehabilitation and Community Providers Association of PA.

The legislation now goes to the full House for a vote.

Questions about this or any state government issue should be directed to Struzzi’s Indiana district office at 1-724-465-0220.

Representative Jim Struzzi
62nd Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Scott Little
717.260.6137 (office), 717.497.5937 (cell)
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