OKLAHOMA CITY – Sen. Jessica Garvin, R-Duncan, has filed Senate Bill 1314, which would require the Oklahoma Health Care Authority (OHCA) to provide Medicaid reimbursement for providers who screen children and adults for adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) as funds are available. Garvin worked with Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy (OICA) CEO and former state Rep. Joe Dorman on the legislation to help increase the number of participants in preventative mental health services.
“Improving mental health services and access for Oklahomans is one of my top priorities, so I was pleased when Joe reached out to me with this request,” said Garvin. “Incentivizing providers to screen their patients and clients will improve mental health in our state by helping mental health professionals set more appropriate benchmarks and goals while also letting the Legislature know where more resources are needed.”
Dorman said increasing screenings will help the state better address the mental health needs of Oklahomans.
“Oklahomans who are negatively impacted by high ACEs scores are often underserved because we don’t know they are suffering. Our First Lady, Sarah Stitt, has been active in educating community leaders about early intervention and providing hope to Oklahomans who are impacted by childhood trauma,” Dorman said. “I knew Jessica and her husband, Stephen, a child welfare supervisor for the Department of Human Services, had attended those trainings in Duncan and were passionate about this issue. Senator Garvin jumped on the opportunity to increase screening and data collection so that we have a better understanding of how to help serve some of the most vulnerable people in Oklahoma.”
In addition to providing reimbursement for the screenings, SB 1314 would require ACEs screening providers to refer patients, based on their ACEs scores, to appropriate services, such as mental health counseling, if there is sufficient evidence that such services would be beneficial.
Garvin said better addressing the mental health needs of Oklahomans will help improve outcomes in numerous areas.
“I believe unaddressed mental health needs lead to generational welfare, overcrowding in our prisons, failing students in our schools, and increases the number of kids in foster care,” Garvin said. “We have to start addressing these issues if we want to improve outcomes in this state, produce more successful and independent adults, and keep Oklahoma families together.”
The bill, which would go into effect on July 1, 2022, will be up for consideration when session gets underway next month.
For more information, contact: Sen. Garvin: (405) 521-5522 or Jessica.Garvin@oksenate.gov