Legislation Addresses Outpatient Treatment

Saturday, November 10, 2018

In late October, Governor Wolf signed House Bill 1233 establishing a framework for assisted outpatient treatment in Pennsylvania.

This legislation seeks to develop a new avenue for needed court-ordered outpatient treatment in addition to existing avenues of involuntary evaluations, hospitalizations, and outpatient commitments.

The bill's primary sponsor was Representative Tom Murt of Hatboro, a strong mental health advocate. In introducing this legislation, Rep. Murt's intent was to put a pathway to needed care in place before an individual with serious mental illness became a potential danger to himself or to others. This has become known as Assisted Outpatient Treatment. Over 40 states now have similar legislation.

The new law amends the Mental Health Procedures Act of 1976. It creates a process for mandated outpatient care for persons felt to be at risk of rehospitalization, incarceration, or harm to self or others because of not maintaining indicated mental health treatment.
Counties have the option of implementing AOT.

The PA Department of Human Services is developing regulations, policies, and procedures for use by counties. The Montgomery County Office of Mental Health is currently reviewing the legislation.