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Committee plans vote to expand child psychiatry consultation program

Thursday, June 6, 2019  
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June 5, Wisconsin Health News

The lead author of a bill aiming to expand a child psychiatry consultation service said the legislation is moving forward on “parallel tracks."

On Tuesday night, lawmakers opted to provide $500,000 in more state money during the 2020-21 state fiscal year for the children psychiatry consultation program, run by the Medical College of Wisconsin in partnership with the Children's Hospital of Wisconsin.

Earlier in the day, the Assembly Committee on Mental Health held a hearing on a bill providing an additional $1.5 million in each fiscal year to expand the program.

“This will help kids in every corner of the state get more access to the mental healthcare that they need,” lead author and Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke, R-Kaukauna, told committee members.

The current program, supported by a $1 million annual grant, serves 26 counties and received funding to expand to 15 more last year.

Dr. Jon Lehrmann, chair in psychiatry and behavioral medicine at MCW, said that children wait months and sometimes over a year for a mental health professional.

“For anyone who has dealt with a mental health issue, whether personally or with a loved one, you know that any wait time is not acceptable,” he said.

He said the consultation program is not “the full solution,” but a way of helping providers.

The committee has scheduled a vote on the measure for next Wednesday.