The plan of state Rep. Hank Vaupel, R-Handy Township, to improve Michigan’s Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT) Law is now state law.
AOT has come to be known as Kevin’s Law, named for University of Michigan graduate student Kevin Heisinger, who was tragically attacked and murdered by a paranoid schizophrenic who stopped taking his medication. The assailant’s family tried for days to get him help prior to the incident, but had no legal way to do so.
Kevin’s Law was intended to be a pre-emptive option for patients who need assistance, but has been underutilized and was not living up to its full potential. Vaupel’s new plan updates and improves on this existing statute to ensure mental illness is addressed earlier to prevent homelessness, dangerous behavior and incarceration.
“Early intervention is not only better for individuals in crisis, it also reduces the state’s hospital and incarceration costs, saving Michigan taxpayer dollars,” said Vaupel, who chaired the House Health Policy Committee last term. “I’m confident it’s what’s best for Michigan.”
In addition to Vaupel’s House Bill 5810, now Public Act 593 of 2018, several other mental health bills have been signed into law at the end of December as a result of the House CARES Mental Health Task Force, which he co-chaired last term.
Public Acts 594 and 595 allow guardians to provide consent for mental health treatment, and PA 657 creates a statewide database of available inpatient psychiatric beds to ensure every person experiencing mental health crisis has a place to go when seeking treatment.
Vaupel said he’s proud of what the task force and the Health Policy Committee were able to accomplish over the past two years, and is optimistic about the work they will continue to do throughout the 2019-2020 legislative term.
“We must continue to work to eliminate the stigma attached to mental illness and do all we can to improve access to care for those in need,” Vaupel said.