Florida Association of Managing Entities, Florida Behavioral Health Assoc. celebrate mental health legislation
TALLAHASSEE, FLA. 3/8/24-Rep. Patt Maney, R-Shalimar, urges the House to pass his bill (CS/CS/HB 7021), Friday at the Capitol in Tallahassee. The bill passed the House. COLIN HACKLEY PHOTO

Stakeholder groups embrace reforms in HB 7021.

Two stakeholder groups are united in approval over legislation passed the Session that changes Florida’s approach to mental health.

Florida Association of Managing Entities CEO Natalie K. Kelly says her group, which focuses on behavioral health, is applauding “the Legislature for passing legislation that modernizes the decades-old Baker and Marchman acts.”

“The bill, if approved by the Governor, will streamline the Baker Act and Marchman Act processes, remove barriers to services, and ensure those who are discharged have the access to care they need. Additionally, the bill places Florida’s Managing Entities on the Interagency Collaboration Board,” Kelly notes.

Meanwhile, the Florida Behavioral Health Association is likewise thrilled.

“Under the incredible leadership of Representative Patt Maney, who has spearheaded this initiative for over four years, in partnership with Representative Traci Koster and Senator Erin Grall, families across Florida will benefit from HB 7021,” said FBHA President and CEO Melanie Brown-Woofter.

“The bill will enhance access to mental health and substance use disorder crisis services in Florida’s communities and will provide flexibility for courts to better meet individuals’ needs, ultimately protecting individuals and families. This is a huge win for Florida’s community behavioral health providers, and we are grateful to Representative Patt Maney for being the champion for people experiencing a behavioral health crisis.”

Brown-Woofter continued, “On behalf of the nearly 70 community mental health and substance use disorder providers and over half a million Floridians FBHA represents, we thank them for championing HB 7021, which invests $50 million towards improving and expanding services offered through the Baker and Marchman Acts.”

Indeed, the bill, which includes a $50 million appropriation to the Department of Children and Families and which was approved unanimously in the House and Senate, seems to offer a series of much needed reforms.

Baker Act changes include streamlining the process for obtaining involuntary services, and giving police officers more latitude on involuntary exams for those who need them.

Marchman Act changes include a new “consolidated involuntary treatment process,” banning courts from putting developmentally disabled people into state facilities involuntarily, allowing witnesses to appear remotely given good cause and consent from all parties, and allowing people to be admitted without a transfer evaluation.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


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