Brown bill signed to help children and new moms access mental-health services

On Tuesday Gov. Jay Inslee signed a bill sponsored by Sen. Sharon Brown that continues her efforts to address the state’s mental-health needs. The law created by Senate Bill 6452 will expand the activities of the children’s mental-health services consultation program and create a pilot program to specifically address the needs of children, pregnant women and new mothers.

“My heart goes out to those new mothers struggling to balance their duties as a parent with the need for emotional and psychological help that sometimes accompanies becoming a new mom,” said Brown, R-Kennewick. “This new law will connect those women and their health-care providers with the resources they need.”

In signing the bill, the governor praised the measure as one of the “best bills of the session.”

“Thanks go to Senator Brown for this thoughtful bill,” Inslee said.

In addition to creating the two-year PAL for Moms and Kids pilot program, Senate Bill 6452 will require the state Health Care Authority to collaborate with the University of Washington and Seattle Children’s Hospital to annually report on the pilot program’s outcomes. Also, the HCA will be tasked with enforcing network adequacy and care-coordination requirements in managed-care contracts.

“When a woman is going through a pregnancy it can be among the most difficult and stressful periods in her life,” Brown pointed out. “Mental-health services, when needed, are crucial and time-sensitive; yet those very services can be difficult to find, and the system itself can be hard to navigate – even for providers.

“Thanks to this new law, these women and children will finally get the help they need in a timely fashion.”

The Partnership Access Line (PAL) supports primary-care providers (doctors, nurse practitioners and physician assistants) with questions about mental health care such as diagnostic clarification, medication adjustment, or treatment planning.

Brown thanked her colleagues for their help in expanding the work of PAL in Washington, and singled out Sen. David Frockt, D-Seattle, for his leadership and assistance in getting the bill through the legislative process.

The new law will go into effect June 7.