Alexandria, VA – Today Mental Health America recognized six state legislators as part of the group of MHA’s 2021 Legislative Champions. Each was honored at MHA’s winter Regional Policy Council (RPC) meeting, “Crisis Equals Opportunity,” in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
The six legislators recognized were:
- Maine Speaker of the House of Representatives Ryan Fecteau. He shepherded into law first-in-the-nation legislation that prohibits an insurance carrier from requiring prior authorization or step-therapy for medications for mental illness.
- Maine Senator Trey Stewart, a member of the Health Coverage, Insurance, and Financial Services Committee. He was the primary sponsor of first-in-the-nation legislation that prohibits an insurance carrier from requiring prior authorization or step-therapy for medications for mental illness.
- New Mexico Senator Gerald Ortiz y Pino, Chair of the Health and Public Affairs Committee. Sen. Ortiz y Pino has exhibited strong leadership in the rebuilding and enhancement of mental health services in New Mexico.
- California Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan. She introduced, and is the principal author of, California’s pending 988 legislation. She also advocated for and helped secure $20 million in financial support to ensure trained mental health professionals will be ready to staff 988.
- Hawaii Senator Joy San Buenaventura, Chair of the Human Services Committee. She advocated for the first bill establishing "Ohana Zones” for those experiencing homelessness in Hawaii. The program provides housing and wraparound social and health services.
- Colorado Senator Chris Kolker, a member of the Business, Labor, and Technology Committee. He was a prime sponsor of Colorado’s 988 bill – a bill that has become one of the national models for sustainable 988 funding and infrastructure.
“These legislators are pioneers of model mental health policy in their states. They are all leading the way in enacting policy that makes mental health systems work better and we appreciate their commitment,” said Debbie Plotnick, Senior Vice President for State and Federal Advocacy at Mental Health America.
Today’s RPC meeting, “Crisis Equals Opportunity,” was held in person in Santa Fe with a virtual component. Past Legislative Champion, Tennessee Senator Becky Duncan Massey, spoke at the meeting about what being recognized as a mental health champion meant to her and her constituents.
More information on the MHA RPC can be found here.
About Mental Health America
Mental Health America (MHA) is the nation’s leading community-based nonprofit dedicated to addressing the needs of those living with mental illness and promoting the overall mental health of all. MHA’s work is driven by its commitment to promote mental health as a critical part of overall wellness, including prevention services for all; early identification and intervention for those at risk; integrated care, services, and supports for those who need them; with recovery as the goal. Learn more at MHAnational.org.