MHAPA joins other mental health advocates in opposing HB 1233, Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT), as currently drafted. The bill proposes changes to PA’s involuntary outpatient treatment or mandatory outpatient treatment—which is community-based outpatient treatment ordered by the court for people with severe mental illness who meet specific legal criteria. The bill, as written, lacks major considerations for making AOT fair, effective, and legally responsible.

We have met with the group behind the bill to address our concerns, offering input and amendments that would ensure fair treatment and due process to people targeted by the bills. We were told our major, critical changes would not be included.

On Wednesday, the PA House Health and Human Services Committee meets to consider HB 1233. Act today: call members of the Committee and urge them to vote NO on the bill. The Committee list is here, with links to contact information for all members.  

Our main concerns with the bill’s provisions as currently drafted are:

Funding:  If AOT is introduced, the community-based services associated with it must be funded yet the bill does not address funding for anything beyond the costs associated with the court process. The services outlined in the bill are not currently available in every county. It will require additional state funds to provide the services necessary to support people subject to AOT. Further, the idea that the only funding involved is the amount to support the court process suggests a lack of understanding about the meaning of assisted outpatient treatment. The purpose of the bill should be to obtain mental health services for individuals, not simply to bring someone before the court.

Targeted Outreach: The bill lacks any Targeted Outreach. A Targeted Outreach Program would allow professionals to continuously engage with people to try to bring them into services voluntarily. Ultimately treatment works best when people come into the services voluntarily. Targeted outreach is a critical step if AOT must be introduced.

Look Back Period and Future Predictions:  We have significant concerns about the four year look back period which is included in the bill. Events of four years ago should not be a consideration when determining if a person currently needs treatment. Similarly, it is important to limit future harm predictions to a reasonable time period.

Monitoring and Due Process: The bill does not ensure monitoring and due process. When a person is committed and a treatment plan is in place, the person must receive the needed services. Monitoring must take place to assure that providers are identified and the services are delivered. If the services are not delivered, the person must have legal recourse.

HB 1233 takes away an individual’s Constitutional rights with no assurance that they will receive the needed services. Contact PA House and Human Services Committee members today to urge a NO vote on Wednesday.