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Florida mental health summit: ‘We will impact the 2016 legislative Session’

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In the wake of the Florida Times-Union’s powerful dive into dangerous gaps in the state’s mental health system of care, advocates pushing for change say they’re getting their strategy in place to press legislators hard to enact reforms in 2016. “We’re coordinating a statewide advocacy effort, bringing together mental health professionals, advocates, families, and consumers, to really have an effect on the 2016 legislative session,” says Denise Marzullo, CEO of Mental Health America of Northeast Florida. Marzullo is bringing two…

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Pinellas top lawyers, Bob Dillinger and Bernie McCabe, running for re-election in 2016 with eyes on mental health issues

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Pinellas’ top lawyers, Bob Dillinger and Bernie McCabe, want four more years. Dillinger, 65, has been the public defender for Pinellas and Pasco counties since ’96. McCabe, 67, has represented the same area — Florida’s Sixth Judicial Circuit — as the state attorney since ’92. They’ll be running for their sixth and seventh consecutive terms, respectively. Saint PetersBlog recently spoke with each candidate, and atop both of their future to-do lists, should they get re-elected, were mental health related issues. “I…

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Gov. Scott orders independent analysis of Florida prisons

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Gov. Rick Scott is ordering an independent analysis of the state’s prison system and the development of two prisons to test new ways of handling and housing prisoners with mental health issues, as well as the general population. Scott issued the order Thursday. He is also directing the Department of Corrections to work with the departments of Children and Families and Juvenile Justice on how to improve mental health services. The two prototype prisons will be developed at existing facilities.…

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Senate bill seeks additional federal Medicaid dollars for mental health and substance abuse programs

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The Senate has proposed a tandem of bills that, combined, would transform Florida’s mental health and substance abuse laws as well as increase the amount of federal Medicaid money used fund the programs. The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human services will discuss two bills — released late Friday — at its March 16 meeting. The proposed bills do not not have bill numbers because they are drafts. They are contained in the committee’s meeting package. The first bill,…

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TaxWatch finds mental health providers doing a good job and need more money

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A Florida TaxWatch study finds the state’s network of nonprofit mental health providers is doing such a good job it deserves more money. Florida provides substance abuse and other services to the uninsured through seven regional Behavioral Health Managing Entities. The network enables services to be tailored to the community needs. TaxWatch found the model does lower costs, increased accountability and is an efficient use of tax dollars. “It is critical that our state’s mental health dollars are spent most…

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Boley Centers wants $49 million for mental health care, St. Pete City Council agrees

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

At the bidding of St. Pete City Council, the city is backing local nonprofits supporting mental health programs in the city in their ask for increased funding from the state. During a presentation today, Boley Centers President Gary McMath told City Council members the average per-person public expenditures for people suffering from mental health in Florida is just $26.60. The national average is $130. That showing makes Florida number 49 in the U.S. for mental health spending. “It’s pretty dismal,”…

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Legislators say now is the time to improve state’s mental health and substance abuse services

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A bipartisan group of House and Senate members on Tuesday announced their support of a 21-page bill that would better fund community mental health services and, among other things, establish a data collection system populated with information about individuals receiving publicly funded substance abuse and mental health disorders. In kicking off the press conference on HB 1005, veteran state Sen. Nancy Detert predicted that the state would pass legislation this year increasing funding for mental health and substance abuse services.…

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