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Senate committee advances mental health clinics bill, but strips out funding

By Brandon Smith, IPB News | Published on in Community, Government, Health, Politics
Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch testified in a Senate committee on the importance of mental health care treatment funding. Crouch shared her family's experience with mental health and substance use disorder challenges. (Brandon Smith/IPB News)

A bill to bolster mental health care access and services across Indiana unanimously cleared a Senate committee Thursday – but without any funding included.

The legislation, SB 1, originally included $30 million for community mental health clinics. In a rare move, Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch testified on the bill. She said its importance goes beyond policy – access to mental health and substance use disorder treatment is personal for so many Hoosier families, including hers.

“My sister Nancy died by suicide in her early 20s. We just buried my brother Larry in November – he was an alcoholic,” Crouch said. “Our daughter, Courtney, is 12 years sober and bipolar.”

READ MORE: Senate Republicans outline 2023 agenda, including health, public safety and business tax savings

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The bill is also intended to help fund the 988 mental health crisis hotline. Jodie Moser said her brother could’ve used something like that. He was killed by police in Florida during a mental health crisis.

“He dealt with a lot of anger management, a lot of depression,” Moser said “He abused alcohol. But none of those things should’ve been a death sentence for my brother.”

A Senate committee stripped out the $30 million. Instead, funding will be part of the state budget debate.

Brandon is our Statehouse bureau chief. Contact him at bsmith@ipbs.org or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.