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Gov. Carney signs legislation easing access to mental health and addiction services

Sarah Mueller
Gov. Carney signs two mental health and substance abuse legislation and a joint resolution.

New laws seek to help people with mental illness or dealing with substance abuse get easier access to treatment.

Gov. John Carney signed two bills Tuesday that give Delawareans more access to treatment services and medication.

State Sen. Stephanie Hansen’s bill allows law enforcement to share information about a person suffering from an overdose or mental health crisis with the Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health.

DSAMH Director Elizabeth Romero said once someone is referred to her team, they will do an assessment and identify the right level of care.

“We want to make sure (that) it’s patient-centered, focused on what their needs are, their social support needs are," she said. "And really connect them to something that will help them in their recovery journey.”

Hansen said many people assumed this was already happening, but this legislation is necessary to get people quickly referred to DSAMH.

“That information will go directly to DSAMH, where a case manager can then be assigned, that person can be directed to services," she said. "Which is exactly what we need. We needed this yesterday, last month, last year, many years ago, but we finally have it as of today.”

Legislation sponsored by State Rep. David Bentz adds Medication Assisted Treatment to mental health parity laws, which require insurers to cover mental health and substance abuse like other conditions.

It also bars insurance companies from charging more for MAT medications and making patients try a less expensive drug first.

Carney also signed a joint resolution, sponsored by State Rep. Ray Seigfried, asking the Behavioral Health Consortium to make recommendations to increase the number of MAT prescribers.

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