On December 12, 2018, BHECON sponsored a reception for newly elected state legislators in Kansas. The reception was hosted by the Association of Community Mental Health Centers of Kansas, the Heartland Regional, Alcohol & Drug Assessment Center and the Johnson County Mental Health Center.
The recent election brought about some changes in the state legislature and this event was an opportunity to not only build relationships with the newly elected legislators, but also to further cultivate existing relationships with elected officials. The legislative delegation from the two-county area that includes Kansas City and Shawnee, where the reception was held, constitute 25 percent of the Kansas Legislature, so this reception was an opportunity to reach a sizeable number of both newly elected and incumbent legislators.
More than 40 people attended the reception, which featured presentations by Kyle Kessler, Executive Director of ACMHCK and representatives from the other organizations who highlighted their legislative agendas for the 16 new legislators and several incumbents who were there. In addition, several local officials, including County Commissioners and the Congressional district staff from the two counties on the Kansas side of the Kansas City metro area were in attendance.
A key piece of ACMHCK’s policy agenda for 2019 is the implementation of Mental Health 2020, a package of mental health improvement initiatives aimed at restoring the funding balance to the Community Mental Health Center (CMHC) system, as well as assisting in workforce development programs to increase the number of psychiatrists who will be trained and incentivized to stay in Kansas. Funding was also requested for the Kansas Department of Aging and Disability Services to invest in community-based crisis stabilization and treatment services. Copies of the Kansas data chartbook produced by the Schaeffer Center for Health Policy & Economics were also provided to those in attendance to demonstrate the need for these policy changes.