LANSING — Last week, state Rep. Vanessa Guerra’s (D-Saginaw) House Bill 5818 was voted out of the House Committee on Health Policy. HB 5818 would allow a guardian over a legally incapacitated individual to give consent and approval necessary for that individual to receive mental health care or treatment. The bill would also require the guardian to provide annual reports on the mental health treatment received by the individual. Currently, mental health is not included as a service for which a guardian can provide consent and approval for an individual under their care, if necessary.

“Too many people in our state go without the health care and support they need, whether it’s due to the rising cost of prescription drugs or because they are unable to access available resources,” Guerra said. “We should be doing all we can to ensure people have access to these critical care services. By allowing guardians to have a stronger voice for the individuals in their care, we are helping them better serve their loved ones and connect them with the support they need.”

Guerra’s HB 5818 was informed by recommendations from the House CARES (Community, Access, Resources, Education and Safety) Task Force, which visited a number of Michigan counties over the better part of 2017 to hear from professionals and community members on mental health and addiction issues. The bill now awaits a vote from the full House of Representatives.

“Through our work on the task force, it became increasingly clear that too many barriers prevent family members from caring for loved ones in their time of need. This legislation sets out to change that,” Guerra said. “I appreciate the committee supporting this important legislation, and hope to see it make its way through the legislative process quickly.”