Senate OKs bill to divert mental, behavioral health 911 responses to appropriate settings


Legislation would ensure access to appropriate treatment, help overcrowded emergency departments


STATE HOUSE – The Senate has approved legislation authorizing emergency medical services to divert transports resulting from non-emergency 911 calls about mental or behavioral health to appropriate alternative settings, and requiring commercial health insurers and Medicaid to reimburse for that transport.

“The emergency department is not the right place for people suffering from nonemergency behavioral or mental health problems, yet our emergency departments are overwhelmed — more now than ever — with patients seeking help for them, often because it’s the only option available to them. This legislation will skip the needless and expensive trip to the hospital and help get people directly to the place that is best suited to meet their needs,” said Senate Health and Human Services Committee Chairman Joshua Miller (D-Dist. 28, Cranston, Providence), the sponsor of the bill.

This bill (2022-S 2476A), which the Senate approved yesterday, would authorize emergency medical services (EMS) to divert non-emergency 911 calls from emergency departments, allowing EMS to bring patients to alternative settings as appropriate. Under the bill, commercial health insurers and Medicaid would be required to provide coverage and reimbursement for EMS transport to defined alternative facilities.

The bill would also permit EMS to allow licensed mental health providers to accompany EMS and treat EMS patients in the community as appropriate. Commercial health insurers and Medicaid would be required to provide coverage for such mental health treatment in the community.

The legislation now goes to the House of Representatives, where Rep. Rebecca Kislak (D-Dist. 4, Providence) is sponsoring a similar bill (2022-H 8282).



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