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Health and Medicine

Oregon Will Use Medicaid Funding For Mental Health Emergency Response

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White Bird Clinic

Oregon Legislature recently approved a bill that will help fund mobile mental health crisis teams around the state.

The bill allocates $10 million dollars of federal funding to be distributed across the state for crisis intervention centers.

Jackson County Representative Pam Marsh co-sponsored the bill. She says these crisis teams would complement police presence in terms of public safety during emergencies.

“What we’re trying to do is explore the idea that different kinds of professionals can be involved in responding to those 9-1-1 calls where there’s not a danger of violence or a need for someone to intervene in the way that law enforcement can intervene,” said Marsh.

Some of these professionals would be social workers, nurse practitioners, and mental health workers. They would address issues such as mental health crises and suicide threats.

Groups in Southern Oregon have been advocating for this bill in recent years. Marsh believes recent cases of people in mental health crises being killed during police encounters have led more Americans to rethink public safety methods.

“I certainly know that the Rogue Valley has been interested in this, and has been for a very long time," she said. "We know that communities across the country woke up and started looking at these questions last summer. How many communities will actually come forward to put together a proposal? We’ll find that out in the grant process.”

Communities can apply for grant money to be used to assess existing resources, provide behavioral healthcare training, or develop and implement crisis intervention services. State Medicaid offices will be responsible for coordinating the mental health units.