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Mental health overhaul bills receive committee hearing

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Bills meant to help people get mental health treatment before they're in a crisis received a hearing in a state House Committee today.

The legislation would require the state health department to create and fully fund a statewide network of certified community behavioral health clinics.

Republican state Representative Mary Whiteford says her plan would save the state around $300-million-dollars.

The bills she's sponsoring would create a third-party “administrative services organization.” She says that could work with the state health department to help coordinate management.

Democratic state Representative Felicia Brabec describes those as a sort of “front door” for the state’s mental health services.

"What we’re able to do is not only see folks who are in an acute state, which is what we have now with the mental health code, but we’re also able to see folks with—who are in a mild to moderate place in terms of their mental health." she said.

Braybec says the bill package would expand the care available to people who are not yet in a crisis.

The bills would also allow the state to contract a third-party administrative service organization to help oversee certain functions.