Monthly Archives: May 2013

Keiser’s involuntary commitment bill signed into law

May 21st, 2013|

Information from family and friends soon will be considered when a licensed mental health professional and the court determine whether someone should be involuntarily committed for mental health treatment, thanks to legislation signed into law today by Gov. Jay Inslee.

"People who may need to be committed and receive treatment don’t always present symptoms when being examined and assessed; someone might exhibit none of the signs that immediate commitment is warranted,” said Sen. Karen Keiser, D-Kent, the sponsor of Senate Bill 5480. “But friends and family who see that person from day to day often see behavior and telltale signs that won’t show up in a single examination.”

Her legislation accelerates the implementation date from July 2015 to July 2014 for legislation enacted in 2010 (House Bill 3076) to expand the scope of information used by the court when determining if someone meets the criteria for involuntary civil commitment for mental health treatment.

Keiser’s bill also calls for additional local mental health services to reduce the need for hospitalization under the Involuntary Treatment Act. The state operating budget passed earlier this session by the Senate provides $14 million for additional mental health services.

The expansion of Medicaid under Obamacare is a key factor in our state’s ability to fund additional mental health services in this year’s budget, Keiser said. SB 5480 is the 13th bill passed this session that reforms our mental health system and capped a landmark year in this critical human services area, she noted.

“This has been a groundbreaking year for our ability to help those who struggle with mental health issues,” Keiser said. “Today’s bill will make sure those who need mental health treatment will receive care and also protect the public from incidents involving individuals who have not received intensive mental health service.”

Keiser’s unused prescriptions bill signed into law

May 17th, 2013|

Health care professionals and medical facilities will soon be able to donate unused, unopened prescription drugs for distribution to people without health insurance, thanks to legislation signed into law today by Gov. Jay Inslee.

"Every day, we dispose of valuable prescription drugs simply because their recipients have died or no longer need the prescriptions, and meanwhile there are people going without medication simply because they cannot afford it,” said Sen. Karen Keiser, D-Kent, the sponsor of Senate Bill 5148. “This will provide vital drugs for people who cannot afford them, provided the drugs have not been opened and are still sealed and still well within their expiration dates.”

Keiser developed the legislation after learning — while serving on the board of a local nursing home — that current law requires that unused prescription drugs must be discarded.

“Thousands of dollars of perfectly usable unopened drugs are thrown away every month now,” she said. “It is a huge waste of valuable medicines that will save thousands of dollars in prescription drug costs.”

Keiser’s legislation allows health care practitioners, pharmacists, medical facilities, drug manufacturers and drug wholesalers to donate prescription drugs and supplies to pharmacies for redistribution, under strict controls. The drugs or supplies must be inspected before dispensing and determined not to have been unsealed or otherwise adulterated or misbranded. The drugs also must bear expiration dates that are more than six months after the date of donation. The drugs may be issued to individuals who are uninsured and at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level.

“These drugs can improve quality of health and life for people in communities across our state,” Keiser said. “It’s not too strong to say that, in some cases, the donation of these drugs may extend life and prevent deaths. There’s no telling how many people this can help.”

The new law takes effect July 1, 2014.