Patrick / Kolkhorst promote $2 billion mental health care expansion

Sen. Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham) joined Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick in a press conference to discuss the senator’s recently passed legislation to address mental health in Texas. Kolkhorst’s Senate Bill (SB) 26 expands mental health care facility capacity across the state through an innovation grant program emphasizing child and adolescent patients, while also reforming the methodology by which patients are transitioned out of state hospitals and establishing new data reporting requirements to “better access the needs of communities.”

Local hospitals, jails, and community programs are purported to be overflowing with mental health patients across the state, prompting a triad of Senate proposals in response. 

Among the proposals include provisions in the supplemental budget, SB 30, which expands local mental health care capacity through funds for new construction projects. 

Patrick told reporters the state would be contributing over $2 billion from surplus revenue to fund construction projects around the state after working with local communities regarding their respective needs. 

Nineteen locations across the state were revealed during the conference that would benefit from the state’s plan with both new construction projects and the expansion of existing facilities. 

Patrick noted that Midland was not shown on the map, however, he added that additional funding for the proposed Permian Basin Behavioral Healthcare Center would be considered during the conference committee stage. 

“As I traveled rural Texas last year, I listened closely as Texans from all regions of our state explained the need for improved mental health care access,” Patrick said in a statement on SB 26. 

“As lieutenant governor, I have already invested more in mental health care than any lieutenant governor in Texas history,” he stated, adding further, “This historic legislation builds upon what we have done in the last 8 years in the area of mental health. This investment is a responsible use of our unprecedented budget surplus, and I am proud that the Senate has come together as one to support this important and historic endeavor.” 

Kolkhorst said she was shocked during the development of the legislation to learn about the wait list at mental health hospitals across the state, noting that out of 2,500 patients on the list at the time, all but 73 were “forensic” patients, meaning someone with a mental illness who is being held for committing a crime. 

Another one of Kolkhorst’s bills has cleared the Senate, SB 25, which creates grant and loan programs to increase the number of healthcare workers, specifically nurses, citing shortages.

According to the legislative background on the bill, Texas is facing “a major crisis in health care staff” and present estimates of the number of new registered nurses are not predicted to meet the state’s demand. 

“We can no longer have nearly 2500 men and women sitting in our county jails waiting for restoration,” Kolkhorst said.
Dan Butcher

Dan Butcher is the editor and publisher of High Plains Pundit. Dan is also the host of the popular High Plains Pundit Podcast.

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