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Commentary on HB1072: “This Deserves a More Transparent Process”

It is alarming the House chose not to allow this measure HB1072 to come to a vote while there is so much support from Senators, state agencies, mental health consumers and a wide swath of the community. This deserves a more transparent process.

Click to view status of bill

Click to view status of bill

The issue has been thoroughly vetted to address a mental health crisis occurring in our rural communities. We’ve spent almost ten years on this, gathering support that is now overwhelming, from even the Department of Health. The only opposition was the medical community that offered no solutions and has failed to address this for decades. This is a sad day for consumers, indeed.

The level of denial of how bad Hawaii’s mental health gaps are is evidenced when our legislators are influenced by powerful lobbyists while so many of our residents are suffering from mental illness and can’t access care.

Are we being forced to debate for another year whether highly trained psychologists should have the ability to help these patients with medication needs, even though there’s a serious shortage of psychiatrists, and many of those won’t see the neediest patients?

What we saw today is an insult to our legislative institution; elected officials have failed to live up to the standards that are set for public servants, they have allowed the institution to be used by the rich and powerful to the detriment of the hundreds of consumers of mental health services who asked for their help.

The public needs to demand that individuals who occupy seats in the Capitol building, do so with integrity and courage. These were absent today; it is a shameful and cowardly way for legislation to be killed.

Alex Santiago, Hawaii Psychological Association

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