Schmidt, Born Discuss Importance Of Mental Health Transport Legislation

(Beaver Dam) The Dodge County Sheriff is optimistic that a bill working its way through the legislature would make the operations of his department more efficient. The measure would allow private transport companies to handle emergency detentions. Currently, the so-called Chapter 51 transports to mental health facilities are handled by law enforcement agencies. Sheriff Dale Schmidt recounted his recent testimony at the capitol when he was our guest on WBEV’s Community Comment.

“And right now I am working with our own representative [Mark] Born, who used to work in the Dodge County Jail as [a] supervisor,” Schmidt explains, “and we’re working on a bill right now that would authorize – in emergency detention-type transports – authorize that private transport to be used with the potential of getting some type of reimbursement from Medicare…to offset some of those costs.”

Representative Born says one solution would allow such transports from a privately contracted transport team or medical professionals who receive custody from law enforcement after a Human Services declaration. Born tells us that the issue is even more concerning in smaller communities. He says cities like Horicon and Juneau may only have one officer on duty who suddenly finds themselves busy for up to ten hours on one transport to Oshkosh or La Crosse. The Beaver Dam Republican says Medicaid reimbursement could help address costs.

The measure unanimously advanced out of an Assembly committee last month, but not without an amendment that requires standards be required of the third party transport company. Sheriff Schmidt testified that such standards are not necessary because the county would be held liable if the transports were not safe and secure.

Born anticipates that the matter will be brought to the floor of the Assembly in January and is optimistic that that the Senate’s Criminal Justice Committee will discuss the matter shortly thereafter with hopes of the bill making it to the governor’s desk as early as February.