Pennsylvania House Adopts Resolution Authorizing Study of State’s Behavioral Health Needs
June 04, 2019
This week, the state House of Representatives unanimously adopted a resolution to help lawmakers better understand the behavioral health needs of Pennsylvania’s patients, beginning with the impact of behavioral health holds in emergency departments. House Resolution 268, sponsored by Representative James Struzzi (R–Indiana), would direct the Joint State Government Commission to study the current state of behavioral health in the commonwealth.
Specifically, the resolution directs the commission to:
- Examine behavioral health treatment capacity and its impacts on emergency departments
- Research the barriers to receiving timely treatment, including resource and capacity limitations, and operational issues
- Explore the reasons for prolonged delays in behavioral health patient discharges
A HAP analysis of 2018 data released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation showed that Pennsylvania has—on average—179 behavioral health providers per 100,000 residents. This is below the national average of 214 per 100,000. Just 14 of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties had mental health provider rates above the state mean. More information about the behavioral health provider shortage (and other population health data) can be found at HAP’s interactive Population Health Dashboard page.
Behavioral health remains a core focus of HAP’s and the Pennsylvania hospital community’s advocacy priorities. HAP believes that, in order to determine appropriate policy, policymakers must understand the whole landscape. The true, systematic barriers to timely placement and access to appropriate behavioral health services are not fully understood.
HAP thanks Representative Struzzi and the Pennsylvania House of Representatives for their support of this study.
For more information, contact Stephanie Watkins, HAP’s vice president, state legislative advocacy, or Rob Shipp, HAP’s vice president, quality and population health.