Kansas Mental
Health Coalition


Each year, the Kansas Mental Health Coalition takes positions on policy issues that advance its mission to improve the lives of Kansans with mental illness. These positions reflect the consensus of our members—over 50 organizations, professionals, and consumers.

Kansas is working to create a stronger public mental health system, and to build an effective continuum of care - one that will no longer struggle to meet the high demand for timely behavioral health care and treatment.  Our Community Mental Health Centers experienced years of funding cuts, and have been challenged to meet the statutory requirement to serve everyone regardless of ability to pay. The Coalition commends the 2017 Legislature action to restore some of the mental health reform grants and convene the Mental Health Task Force.  The state mental health hospitals were chronically over census for years, and now Osawatomie State Hospital has only one unit CMS certified.  This means only 60 of 158 beds can receive federal reimbursement.  Larned State Hospital still lacks sufficient staffing.  There is a moratorium on admissions at Osawatomie State Hospital that has left individuals in crisis on a waiting list.  Law enforcement agencies across the state are calling for an end to the moratorium which began June 21, 2015.  Our jails house too many people with mental illness, while most communities don’t have 24/7 crisis centers or housing programs.  Solutions will take time, but we must begin today.

Outpatient Mental Health Services: Community based services must be restored and expanded across the State to improve a mental health system that has significant gaps in the continuum of care for people with mental illness and substance use disorders.  The Coalition endorses many 2018 Mental Health Task Force Report recommendations including additional diversion and crisis services at the community level; new Medicaid codes for tiered community-based services, including residential, supportive housing and intensive outpatient treatment (reference Missouri model); ending the practice of Medicaid termination when individuals are hospitalized or incarcerated;  expanding the opportunities for peer support programs and specialists; developing professional training and accreditation for staff across programs, and academic partnerships.   The Legislature must fulfill the promise to restore mental health reform grants, and also pursue innovative integrated programs, such as health homes.

Inpatient Psychiatric Services – State Hospitals Crisis: The Kansas Legislature should support and fully fund high-quality psychiatric inpatient services to meet the needs of all Kansans who require this care. Specifically, the Legislature should: 1) Restore the 206 beds at Osawatomie State Hospital and end the moratorium on admissions, 2) Fund Regional Crisis Locations including co-located substance use disorder (SUD) services. 3) Submit Federal Waiver Application for the IMD Exclusion rule to maximize federal funds. 4) Provide for continued public/private partnerships for regional psychiatric inpatient beds.   5) Develop a long-term plan to implement the recommendations of the 2018 Mental Health Task Force Report which asserts that inpatient capacity must expand and community based programs, including crisis stabilization services, substance use disorder treatment and detox services (inpatient and outpatient), and housing resources must be a part of the solution.  The hospitals need investments in staff, training, and new facilities, paired with community strategies that provide for recovery.  The Report does not endorse the current privatization proposal.

Children and Families: The Kansas Legislature should fund services for ALL children who need health, mental health, and substance use treatment.  Whether inpatient or outpatient, Medicaid or private pay, parents must be able to access the services they need at times and locations that work for families.  This is imperative to keep children at home and in school, which reduces the need for expensive out-of-home placements - but most importantly, keeps families together.  When adults in the family access housing, employment, health and substance use treatment, children need fewer long term interventions.

Expand Medicaid:  Kansas should adopt the recommendations of the 2018 Mental Health Task Force Report and the 2017 Adult Continuum of Care Report to expand KanCare eligibility to more Kansans.   Expanding Medicaid will close some of the gaps in our behavioral health continuum of care. Inpatient beds, transition programs, and community based crisis centers struggle to sustain treatment programs for mental illness or addictions for a largely uninsured population.  Expanding Medicaid will improve access to behavioral health care statewide for the Kansans who need it most.

Supportive Housing:  The Kansas Legislature should allocate funds to create supportive housing options through grants and Medicaid options and implement recommendations from the 2018 Mental Health Task Force Report to maximize federal funding and alternative housing opportunities.  Supportive housing is an evidence-based intervention that combines non-time-limited affordable housing assistance with wrap-around supportive services for people experiencing homelessness, as well as other people with disabilities.  Stable housing helps vulnerable Kansans achieve recovery and avoid re-hospitalization.

Clubhouse Program Funding:  Stabilize state funding for Clubhouse Model mental health services that support the Clubhouse Model Program (Wichita Breakthrough Club) as an effective part of the continuum of care, and allow for expansion to communities across the state that determine both a need and capacity to develop Clubhouse model services for people with severe and persistent mental illness.

Peer Support:  Kansas should take steps to increase access to peer support programs across Kansas.  As Kansas invests in services and programs for behavioral health, peer support should be a part of those plans.  Whether through Medicaid or agency contracts, Kansas should increase access to peer support in the public behavioral health system for youth and adults, in our state hospitals, and community based programs for mental illness and substance use disorder treatment.

Medicaid Medication and “Step Therapy”:  The Kansas Legislature should protect patient access to mental health medications in the Medicaid program by requiring transparent, effective policy development by the Mental Health Medication Advisory Committee.  KDHE should reform the Mental Health Medication Advisory Committee process to provide transparency and public access, and expand the Committee’s advisory role to include step therapy policies and processes to assure safe and effective prescribing.  Additionally, the Coalition supports SB 304 to establish safety parameters for private insurance step therapy policies.  Step therapy requirements are also known as “Fail First” pharmacy restrictions – requiring the individual to first “fail” on other medications. 

Mental Health and Criminal Justice:  The Kansas Legislature must adopt public policy that focuses on: (1) Mental health diversion programs that connect youth and adults with serious mental illness with treatment resources that keep them out of the criminal justice system, including a long-term commitment to Juvenile Justice System Reform passed in 2016; (2) Therapeutic care for offenders who are living with mental illness; and (3) Effective discharge planning to ensure that individuals with serious mental illnesses receive community-based services upon their release. 

Contact: Amy Campbell ● 785-969-1617 ● campbell525@sbcglobal.net

P.O. Box 4744 Topeka, KS 66604

(c) Kansas Mental Health Coalition, P.O. Box 4103, Topeka, KS  66604-0103         785-969-1617

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