Louisiana's Plan for Access to Mental Health Care

WHEREAS, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, an estimated twenty (20) percent of Louisiana citizens will experience a need for mental health care treatment in any given year;

WHEREAS, mental illness can occur at any stage in life and at any socio-economic level;

WHEREAS, the President's New Freedom Commission on Mental Health found that the country's mental health care system needed to be fundamentally transformed to become recovery oriented, to integrate programs that are fragmented across levels of government and different agencies and to replace unnecessary institutional care with efficient, effective community services;

WHEREAS, direction has been provided to states under the American with Disabilities Act and the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Olmstead v. L.C. , 527 U.S. 581(1999);

WHEREAS, in order to promote recovery, minimize costly school failures, associated physical health impacts, years of lost productivity and involvement with the justice system, Louisiana residents and their families who need mental health care must have access to a full range of prevention, early intervention, and treatment services;

WHEREAS, integral components of recovery for individuals with mental disorders include accessible, affordable primary health care; housing; transportation; educational, vocational, and avocational opportunities;

WHEREAS, in order to create an integrated comprehensive system of mental health care services, Louisiana is committed to assuring a full array of effective mental health care services for those in need through direct service delivery as permitted within the resources available to the state, as well as partnerships with the private sector;

WHEREAS, Louisiana has begun initiatives to provide effective mental health care services through the pursuit of federal grants, national policy academes, and through the "State Plan" optional services, which includes cross agency efforts designed to increase the availability of prevention, early intervention, and treatment services available to Louisiana residents in community-based settings;

WHEREAS, the citizens of the state of Louisiana will best be served by the adoption of a statewide policy that enhances access to a comprehensive integrated system of mental health care services based on national best practices and broad stakeholder input;

NOW THEREFORE I, KATHLEEN BABINEAUX BLANCO, Governor of the state of Louisiana, by virtue of the authority vested by the Constitution and laws of the state of Louisiana, do hereby order and direct as follows:

SECTION 1: The Department of Health and Hospitals shall be the lead agency and shall convene the Department of Social Services; the Department of Public Safety and Corrections; the Department of Education; the Department of Transportation and Development; the Department of Labor; the Department of Insurance; the Office of Youth Services; the Department of Veterans Affairs; the Governor's Office of Elderly Affairs; the Governor's Office of Disability Affairs; the Louisiana Housing Finance Agency; and the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center (hereafter "Agencies") to develop a comprehensive and effective plan for the transformation of Louisiana's mental health care system, including recommended administrative and legislative actions that may be reasonably achieved by 2010 with the resources available to the state. Upon obtaining input from the Health Care Reform Panel, this comprehensive plan shall be presented to the governor no later than June 2006 for consideration and approval and shall thereafter constitute Louisiana's Plan for Access to Mental Heath Care (hereafter "Louisiana's Mental Health Plan").

SECTION 2: Louisiana's Mental Health Plan shall include, but is not limited to, the following:

A. A review and analysis of all laws, rules and regulations, programs and/or policies of the state of Louisiana and/or any of the departments, commissions, boards, agencies, and/or offices in the executive branch thereof, which pertain to mental health care services and supports, to identify barriers to access and make recommendations that will enable residents of Louisiana who require assistance to access needed mental health care services;

B. Proposals for administrative restructuring of programs, policies, procedures, and/or partnerships to improve the mental health care delivery system, including non-medical services such as transportation, housing, education, and vocational assistance, that are necessary for recovery and productive community-based living, which are achievable within the resources available to the state;

C. Analysis of programmatic, procedural, and fiscal impacts of any policies/practices recommended for adoption;

D. Exploration of means available to the state to secure funding for community-based services for persons needing mental health care services;

E. Recommendations on strategies to educate the public regarding identification of mental health care needs and effective treatment for mental illness and methods of accessing services;

SECTION 3: In developing Louisiana's Mental Health Plan, the Agencies will:

A. Take advantage of relevant work in progress and/or completed by the Agencies, various statewide task forces, councils, commissions, and other bodies that have convened to address related mental health care issues;

B. Consider all existing studies, reports and settlement agreements related to Louisiana' s system of mental health services and supports;

C. Seek input from a broad range of stakeholders, including consumers, their family members, advocates, and private providers of services;

D. Seek consultation from nationally recognized experts and officials in other states in order to identify promising and/or proven practices that are consumer-centered, research-based, cost effective, and applicable to improving accessibility, capacity, quality, and financing across all mental health care services and supports.

SECTION 4: Upon approval of Louisiana's Mental Health Plan, the Agencies will meet quarterly to review progress in the implementation of the plan and will revise the plan as needed based on lessons learned, stakeholder input, and advances in best practices for mental health care delivery services.

SECTION 5: The secretary of the Department of Health and Hospitals, as chair of the Governor's Health Care Reform Panel, shall submit Louisiana's Mental Health Plan to the governor for consideration and approval.

SECTION 6: All departments, commissions, boards, offices, entities, agencies, and officers of the state of Louisiana, or any political subdivision thereof, are authorized and directed to cooperate with the implementation the provisions of this Order.

SECTION 7: This Order is effective upon signature and shall continue in effect until amended, modified, terminated, or rescinded by the governor, or terminated by operation of law.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have set my hand officially and caused to be affixed the Great Seal of Louisiana, at the Capitol, in the city of Baton Rouge, on this 30th day of June, 2005.

Kathleen Babineaux Blanco

Fox McKeithen
Secretary of State