Legislation would expand funding for psychiatric care in Eastern KY

Proposal clears committee, headed to House

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – Legislation sponsored by Representative Chris Fugate (R-Chavies) that would provide funding for inpatient psychiatric treatment in eastern Kentucky passed the House Appropriations and Revenue Committee. House Bill 339 would provide $14.6 million to the Behavioral Health, Developmental and Intellectual Disabilities budget unit of the Department of Health and Family Services for use toward funding behavioral services for state mental hospital District IV.

“Psychiatric care is an essential service that our hospitals provide to patients,” Rep. Fugate said. “Currently, ARH facilities in eastern Kentucky, including Hazard ARH, are struggling to meet patient needs. This funding will give patients across eastern Kentucky access to these vital services.”

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, mental health services appear more vital than ever. Surveys have shown a significant increase in the number of adults in the United States who report symptoms of stress, anxiety, depression and insomnia during the pandemic compared with surveys before the pandemic.

Kentucky has four state mental hospital districts: District I in Hopkinsville, District II in Anchorage, District III in Lexington, and District IV in Hazard. District IV includes Appalachian Regional Healthcare’s Hazard ARH Regional Medical Center and serves the counties of: Bell, Breathitt, Clay, Floyd, Harlan, Jackson, Johnson, Knott, Knox, Laurel, Lee, Leslie, Letcher, Magoffin, Martin, Owsley, Perry, Pike, Rockcastle, Whitley, and Wolfe.

“The past few years have been difficult for all Kentuckians,” Rep. Fugate added. “These patients in eastern Kentucky deserve the same care available to those across other regions in the state.”

In addition to providing $14.6 million in funding, HB 339 would require a report to be submitted by the Cabinet of Health and Family Services to the Interim Joint Committees on Health and Family Services and Appropriations and Revenue detailing how the Cabinet is spending the funds and how they plan to continue providing these services in the next fiscal year.

HB 339 will move to the House floor for consideration.

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