NEBRASKA LEGISLATURE
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Sen. Matt Hansen

Sen. Matt Hansen

District 26

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Published May 7, 2015
Unicameral Update

The termination date for a children’s behavioral health screening and referral program was extended May 7.

In 2013, the Legislature created the Behavioral Health Screening and Referral Pilot Program at the University of Nebraska Medical Center to develop ways to address unmet children’s behavioral health needs that could be replicated statewide.

LB240, introduced by Lincoln Sen. Matt Hansen, extends the program’s termination date to Sept. 6, 2017.

The bill passed 36-9.

 
Published April 29, 2015
Unicameral Update

A bill seeking to make a children’s behavioral health screening and referral program permanent was amended April 29 to terminate in 2015.

In 2013, the Legislature created the Behavioral Health Screening and Referral Pilot Program at the University of Nebraska Medical Center to develop ways to address unmet children’s behavioral health needs that could be replicated statewide.

LB240, introduced by Lincoln Sen. Matt Hansen, would remove the Sept. 6, 2015, termination date for the program and an existing cap on the number of clinic sites.

Columbus Sen. Paul Schumacher offered an amendment during select file debate that would change the 2015 termination date to 2017.  The pilot project was poorly structured, he said, and too many questions remain unanswered regarding the success of the program.

“I think it’s perfectly obvious … that this pilot program is inconclusive and hasn’t given us the kind of data we need to make it a permanent program,” Schumacher said.

Sen. Merv Riepe of Ralston supported the amendment, saying the pilot program lacked the proper metrics to evaluate its success.

“As we all know, [once] an item or a program is enacted into law, it is very, very difficult to back out of that situation,” he said.

Hansen opposed the amendment. The pilot program has proven to be an important tool in bridging the gap between screening and treatment, he said, and should be available across the state.

“The real issue at hand is the efficacy of this program,” he said.

Lincoln Sen. Kathy Campbell also opposed the amendment, saying the pilot program grew out of the state’s safe haven “debacle” in 2008. In the years following passage of the law, she said, it became clear that Nebraska needed to do more to identify and treat behavioral health disorders in young people.

“This is not a new rodeo,” Campbell said. “This is an extension of a program that has been very successful.”

The Schumacher amendment was adopted 26-9.

Hoskins Sen. Dave Bloomfield offered a motion to bracket the bill until June 5, saying senators should have access to more data before making a decision on the fate of the pilot program.

“The bill would still be alive next session when we would have the required information,” he said.

The bracket motion failed 14-31. Lawmakers voted 26-14 to advance the amended bill to final reading.

 

 
Published April 7, 2015
Unicameral Update

Lawmakers gave first-round approval April 7 to a bill that would extend a behavioral health screening and referral program.

In 2013, the Legislature created the Behavioral Health Screening and Referral Pilot Program at the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) to develop ways to address unmet children’s behavioral health needs that could be replicated statewide.

LB240, introduced by Lincoln Sen. Matt Hansen, would remove the Sept. 6, 2015, termination date for the program and an existing cap on the number of clinic sites.

Hansen said the program screened over 1,900 young people during visits to family health providers since its inception in November 2013. Approximately 23 percent of those children screened positive for a behavioral health concern, he said.

“It has been a successful program and one I feel that we, as a state, should continue,” Hansen said. “Effectively, [LB240] will continue the program and make it permanent.”

Lincoln Sen. Kathy Campbell supported the bill, saying the pilot program grew out of the state’s safe haven “debacle” in 2008. In the years following passage of the law, she said, it became clear that Nebraska needed to do more to identify and treat behavioral health disorders in young people.

Campbell said carrying on the work established by the pilot program is critical to early detection of depression, anxiety and other disorders.
“We need to move this program from a pilot situation to making sure that it exists all across the state of Nebraska,” she said.

Columbus Sen. Paul Schumacher questioned the efficacy of the pilot program, saying more data regarding its success should be offered before removing the sunset date.

Senators needs to know what form of treatment children received, how it was paid for and how effective it was, he said—as well as how those results compare to children who were not screened or treated.

“As a pilot program, we should learn something before we ‘un-pilot’ it and make it a permanent program,” Schumacher said. “Our only result from this two years is that kids were screened.”

Senators voted 32-11 to advance the bill to select file.

 

Published: Thursday, March 5th, 2015
Unicameral Update

The Health and Human Services Committee heard testimony March 4 on a bill that would extend a behavioral health screening and referral pilot program.

In 2013, the Legislature created the Behavioral Health Screening and Referral Pilot Program at the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) to develop ways to address unmet children’s behavioral health needs that could be replicated statewide.

LB240, introduced by Lincoln Sen. Matt Hansen, would remove the Sept. 6, 2015, termination date for the program and an existing cap on the number of clinic sites.

Hansen said the screening program is included in UNMC’s budget, so LB240 would have no fiscal impact on the state.

“We seem to have great consensus that this is an effective program to make sure that behavioral health care is available in more and more communities throughout our state,” he said.

Joe Evans, director of the psychology department at UNMC, testified in support of the bill. Nebraska currently has a shortage and maldistribution of behavioral health care providers, he said, and having a program that can screen children during primary care provider visits has proven successful.

Evans said 88 of Nebraska’s 93 counties are identified by the federal government as behavioral health provider shortage areas.

UNMC psychology professor Kathryn Menousek also testified in support, saying the program hopes to expand to five or six sites throughout the state.

“This would allow greater access to behavioral health services to many Nebraska families,” she said.

No opposition testimony was offered and the committee took no immediate action on the bill.

Sen. Matt Hansen

District 26
Room #1017
P.O. Box 94604
Lincoln, NE 68509
Phone: (402) 471-2610
Email: mhansen@leg.ne.gov
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