The Children and Families Committee heard the final report on its contracted mental health study during its Oct. 14 meeting and acted on several items related to the study. The committee approved the drafting of legislation to:
fund existing and new kids management authorities (KMAs) at the community level;
provide funds to serve the mental health needs of children up to the age of 6 and of high-risk children with multi-agency needs;
clarify existing laws relating to local and regional advisory groups; and
request an interim study to create a managed care mental health system operated by a "care coordination organization."
The committee also agreed to ask that legislation proposed by the Law and Justice Interim Committee be amended to include support of local community crisis centers and to require mental health screenings of jail inmates.
In addition, the committee asked that letters to sent to the Department of Public Health and Human Services and to the Department of Corrections, asking the agencies to follow up on several specific items with the next Legislature and with future interim committees. Committee members wanted to ensure that the report's recommendations were considered and pursued over a period of time, recognizing that many of the suggestions needed further review before lawmakers and state officials could determine the best way to put them into effect.
DMA Health Strategies of Massachusetts conducted the study over a six-month period, gathering information from consumers and other stakeholders through the use of interviews, surveys, and focus groups. It also has analyzed data on the use of mental health services in Montana.
The 2007 Legislature approved the study during its May 2007 special session, when it authorized a line-item appropriation of $200,000 in House Bill 2 for "an interim study of mental health." A study resolution initially related to the appropriation was introduced as Senate Joint Resolution 27 in the regular session. The Legislative Council in September 2007 approved a study plan calling for the hiring of a consulting firm to conduct the study, which was assigned to the Children, Families, Health, and Human Services Interim Committee. The committee had agreed in June 2007 to ask that the Council assign the study to the committee.
The final DMA Health Strategies report is available as either one download (the full report is 144 pages) or in sections, through the following links. The final report, dated Nov. 18, 2008, incorporates comments made at the Oct. 14 meeting and also reflects discussions with DPHHS staff about the data provided for analysis. The significant changes are summarized in an addendum that is located after the Executive Summary.
The committee requested the drafting of four bills related to the mental health study. The requests have been assigned the following LC numbers and may be followed in the bill-tracking system when they are drafted and as they proceed through the legislative process.
LC 592: Interim study of managed care mental health study
LC 593: Fund kids management authorities
LC 594: Clarify roles of local advisory groups in the mental health system
LC 595: Fund mental health needs of young children and high-risk children with multi-agency needs