Senate gives unanimous support to Breen bill to address behavioral health staffing shortage

Posted: June 11, 2019 | Senator Breen

AUGUSTA — Legislation from Sen. Cathy Breen, D-Falmouth, to address the shortage of behavioral health care workers in Maine, was approved by the Maine Senate on Wednesday. LD 593, “Resolve, To Stabilize the Behavioral Health Workforce and Avert More Expensive Treatments,” received unanimous, bipartisan support in the Senate.

“Mental and behavioral health services that require a dedicated, competent staff. But today there is a huge shortage of workers. The agencies that provide these services have no capacity to increase salaries of these front line workers because the rate of reimbursement by the state has not increased or changed,” said Sen. Breen. “I’m glad this bill to help both patients and care providers received bipartisan support.”

LD 593 would provide funding to increase the rate of reimbursement for behavioral health services. The resolve also specifies that the increase in reimbursement rates must be applied to wages and benefits for employees who provide direct care services and not to administrators or managers. The provision this  bill addresses  serves children and adults with intellectual disabilities in need of private non-medical  institutions; adult medication management to ensure proper distribution and dosage of medication for adults; oversees the mental health services in Maine’s hospitals; and staffs opioid health homes to address the ongoing epidemic.

The bill now faces further votes in the Maine Senate and House.