Legislative Update: Live Healthy

Live Healthy Bill Signing

As mental health advocates, Kids’ Minds Matter recognizes the power of our state and national governments to help improve pediatric behavioral health. By outlining pediatric behavioral health legislative priorities for Southwest Florida, we have come together to advocate all levels of government through phone calls, emails, and letters to our elected officials. This advocacy is hard work and does take time, but change does happen. A prime example is the recently signed Live Healthy legislative package, a significant step forward in our mission.

On March 21, 2024, Governor Ron DeSantis signed five bills as part of the Live Healthy package. This legislative package strengthens Florida’s health care workforce, expands access to quality health care, and advances technology. Championed by Senate President Kathleen Passidomo of Naples along with Speaker Paul Renner, Senator Colleen Burton, and Leader Michael Grant, this legislation is a win for pediatric mental and behavioral health care. It includes:

  • $13 million in funding for Medicaid behavioral health providers
  • Amendments to the Baker Act comprised of:
    • A streamlined process for obtaining involuntary services
    • Flexibility for the courts to meet individual treatment needs
    • A comprehensive and personalized discharge planning process
    • Removal of the 30-bed cap for crisis stabilization units
  • Additional funding for new state behavioral health hospitals
  • Funding to expand the Graduate Medical Education (GME) Statewide Medicaid Residency Program, including at Lee Health
  • Expanded reimbursements for at-home care
  • Improves telehealth access for those in need

Furthermore, the legislative package contains measures to meet the increasing health care demands of Florida’s ever-growing population with initiatives to retain and recruit health care workers. Additionally, the package features provisions to foster innovations in the health care industry while establishing specialized teaching hospitals for behavioral health.

The signing of the Live Healthy initiative was the result of perseverance, dedication, and collaboration by many supporters and advocates throughout Florida. For Kids’ Minds Matter, this is a significant stride towards improving the future of pediatric mental and behavioral health in our community. We should all take a moment to celebrate this milestone, as this package will help us address critical gaps in mental health services.

Join us in sending gratitude to our elected leaders with a letter expressing our appreciation for their dedication to improving the lives of children and families in Florida, advocating for better health care, and addressing the mental and behavioral health needs of our communities.

SAY THANK YOU

There is still so much great work to be done, and we remain committed to advocating for the well-being of children and young people in Southwest Florida. Find out how you can help amplify our voice to drive real change.

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