Suicide Prevention Act Passes House Vote

HB 148 by Representative Reid Falconer, the “Louisiana Suicide Prevention Act,” was reported favorably in a 9 to 0 vote out of committee on March 22 and passed the House this week in an 85 to 0 vote.

The initiative requires the office of behavioral health to ensure that administrators of all healthcare facilities licensed by LDH and that all healthcare professionals licensed by any Louisiana board or commission have ready access to informational resources and technical assistance necessary for implementation of the zero suicide initiative.

The office of behavioral health is to examine and coordinate the use of existing data to identify priority groups of patients, improve the quality of care for persons who are suicidal, and provide a basis for measuring progress in the ongoing operation of the zero suicide initiative.

According to the Legislative Fiscal Office, the proposed law will increase SGF expenditures for the LA Dept. of Health, Office of Behavioral Health by an indeterminable amount. Cost estimates provided by OBH indicate that expenditures are anticipated to total approximately $748,950 in FY 19 with a phaseup of to approximately $792,900 in FY 20 before leveling off at approximately $790,000 in FY 22 and in subsequent years.

OBH reports a need for 2 positions for expanded personnel associated with the initiative. The 2 positions contemplated are a program manager ($123,617 salary and related benefits annually) and a program monitor ($108,015 salary and related benefits annually) for annual total costs of approximately $232,000. Personnel expenditures will be prorated for 9 months in FY 19, which will total $174,000. A majority of the projected recurring expenditure increases ($438,000), will be undertaken by the Human Services Districts and Authorities that will implement the initiative at the local level statewide via interagency transfers from OBH, reported the Fiscal Office.

If passed, the proposal will require a “State Suicide Prevention Plan” to be created and office of behavioral health shall collaborate with criminal justice and health systems, including mental health and behavioral health systems, primary care providers, physical and mental health clinics in educational institutions, colleges and universities, community mental health centers, advocacy groups, emergency medical services professionals, public and private insurers, hospital chaplains, and faith-based organizations to develop and implement all of the following, which shall be included as elements within the state suicide prevention plan.

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