Assisted Outpatient Treatment Laws

Should Connecticut Join 44 Other States In Adopting A New Law

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Assisted Outpatient Treatment Laws
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Assisted Outpatient Treatment Laws

The Sandy Hook shootings have resulted in a special bipartisan task force of the Connecticut legislature.  Last week’s public hearing dealt with recommendations to enhance school safety.  Today’s lengthy hearing is about reducing gun violence, and tomorrow they’ll talk about increasing access to mental health care.

This piece of the puzzle has been the hardest to pin down.  Right now, we don’t know much about Adam Lanza’s mental state - or history of mental illness. But concern has already prompted lawmakers in New York to rush through legislation that requires therapists to report potentially dangerous comments by mental health patients involving guns.  

In Connecticut - another legal change will be on the table.

The CT Mirror’s Arielle Levin-Becker reports that Connecticut is now one of only six states in which the court cannot order psychotic patients to follow their prescribed treatment plan in order to remain independent.

While medication is only part of a more comprehensive program of long-term treatment, in certain illnesses it helps patients who don’t know they are sick recognize their illness and get the help they need.

But it’s not that simple.

Many believe that forcing treatment on people, even when within strict limits, is a violation of their civil rights. In addition, many mental health professionals worry that forcing treatment on their patients will damage the bond of trust that can takes years to build.

But others see it as a public safety issue - making sure that people with severe mental illness aren’t a threat to themselves and others.

Today, we’ll talk to mental health professionals and family members who care for those with mental illness in both the community... and up close at home.

Send us your comments at, join us on Facebook, or tweet us @wherewelive



Greg writes:

I caught a very small portion of today's show, and statements by your 
guests have left me bewildered. They were touting CT's mental health 
services as high quality  and readily available. I must  be living in 
an alternate universe, because that hasn't been my experience. I am 
bipolar II and prone to kneejerk reactions when goaded, and I sent one 
such reaction to the show's email, so I apologize if it was a bit 
nasty. . I have been searching for competent treatment ever since my 
therapist of 15 years dropped me along with Medicare in 2006. Since 
then I deteriorated into relentless depression and my life and savings 
and 15 years of progress eroded away like sand on a beach. I had an 
experience with the hartford police who displayed their crude and 
barbaric ignorance of the symptoms of a bipolar hypomanic attack, said 
experience which broke damaged me to the point where I may never 
regain my functionality of even of a few years ago. I can't afford the 
co pay therapists expect on top of the miserly $40 which medicare 
pays, and the number of therapists who take medicare has radically 
declined, probably by 80% over the last 20 years. The amount of 
compensation medicare allows for therapy has been cut, and the spend 
down requirements for medicaid to take up the co pay are such that I 
can never qualify for medicaid to kick in  even on my $14,000 per 
year. Just 3 weeks ago I thought I found a therapist, who told me she 
accepted medicare, when unbeknownst to me she expected to get paid 
additionally by medicaid as a secondary, and when she found out she 
wouldn't, because of the spend down limits, she dropped me after the 
first visit.

I'm not living in a cave, so if I haven't found any of those amazing 
services, I find it hard to believe that the people running them are 
making serious efforts to be sure they're available, in spite of their 
claims on your show. By available I mean public awareness, not in the 
sense that backstage passes to a Bruce Springsteen show are available 
if you know the right people.

The therapist who dumped me didn't have any knowledge of these amazing 
services to which she could refer me. If these services are so 
accessible and so wonderful how come no less than 3 providers, whose 
services became unavailable to me because of aforementioned reasons, 
had no references for me?

And if I'm having a hard time looking you can bet there are a lot more 
like me

In case you're not familiar with medicaid spend down, it's a clever 
ploy to cut the legs out from under people like me by defunding the 
program without being obvious. It means that if your income exceeds a 
certain amount you have to accrue a certain amount of unpaid medical 
bills before medicaid will pick up the portion of medical bills that 
medicare doesn't pay. Even though my income is only $14,000 they 
assign a figure that I can never meet, several thousand dollars. When 
I first got onto Social Security disability spend down was attainable, 
but that only lasted a few years.

I wish I had been able to call in.

thanks for listening

Leah on Facebook writes:

"listening to the rebroadcast, thinking about my dear friend, on her birthday and wondering if we really ever can protect people from themselves"

Courtenay on Facebook

"I'm listening to the program now and am wondering, when they talk about making it mandatory for severely ill patients to keep up with medications and maintain regular visits with their therapist, what would be the consequence for failure to comply?"