FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 8, 2023
IRG ACTION: COMMON SENSE MENTAL HEALTH REFORM IS GOOD NEWS FOR WISCONSINITES
Legislation authored by IRG Action that increases access to mental health services without costing taxpayers has an Assembly Hearing today.
DELAFIELD, WI– The Assembly Committee on Health, Aging and Long-Term Care is scheduled to hear testimony this morning on Assembly Bill (AB) 541, legislation authored by IRG Action Fund and brought forth by Representative Nate Gustafson (R-Fox Crossing) and Senator Rachael Cabral-Guevara (R-Appleton). AB 541 aims to remove barriers to mental health care access by allowing out-of-state providers to practice in Wisconsin via telehealth technology. IRG Action Fund supports AB 541 and is delivering testimony today urging the committee to pass the bill.
IRG Action Fund has worked to encourage our lawmakers to sign onto the bill, and has provided public commentary on the need for greater access to mental health services. Benjamin Garbedian, former Hamilton Roddis Student Fellow for the Institute for Reforming Government, will also be testifying today with his personal story. Benjamin also had an op-ed published on this simple licensing change concept earlier this year in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
WHAT IT IS
Assembly Bill 541 is scheduled for a hearing in the Assembly Committee on Health at 10:00 a.m. this morning. AB 541 enables out-of-state providers to practice in Wisconsin via telehealth, without first needing to be licensed within the state. These providers would still be required to be licensed in the state from which they practice, have their license in good standing, and provide the patient with contact information for their credentialing authority in the case of needing to file a complaint. Simply put, this allows qualified providers, who are currently serving clients in their home state, to serve Wisconsinites.
IRG ACTION FUND’S TAKE
“There is no silver bullet for solving the mental health crisis in Wisconsin, but AB 541 will increase access to mental health services within our state. This is a common sense solution that will help Wisconsinites get the help they need.”
– Chris Reader, Executive Vice President of IRG Action Fund
WHY DOES IT MATTER
Wisconsin is facing a mental health crisis, something that has been acknowledged by the legislature and by Governor Evers when he announced 2023 as the “Year of Mental Health.” Data from the National Institute of Mental Health shows that nationally, almost 23% of adults are living with mental health issues, and that increases to 49.5% for children between the ages of 13-18. At the same time, a 2019 Department of Health Services report estimates that 47% of adults with mental illness in Wisconsin are unserved and demand is outpacing supply since the start of the pandemic.
We expect that this bill will move quickly through the legislative process – first being voted out of committee and next being taken up for a vote on the floor of the Assembly. We hope to see this bill as part of a legislative focus on mental health policy solutions yet this month.
We are hopeful that this legislation will enjoy bipartisan support as it was modeled after Emergency Order 16, which was signed by Governor Evers in March of 2020. IRG Action Fund will continue to advocate for AB 541 and other legislation that allows for greater access to mental health care services within the state of Wisconsin.