Snyder, Ortitay applaud DHS for clarifying procedures around minors’ mental health treatment

CARMICHAELS, July 5 – State Reps. Pam Snyder, D-Greene/Fayette/Washington, and Jason Ortitay, R-Washington/Allegheny, today issued the following statements in response to the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services issuing a new bulletin on guidance for the minors’ right to consent law:

“This administrative action essentially achieves what I and Representative Ortitay have been seeking via legislation, which is clarity on a law put on the books in 2004,” Snyder said. “That law had a good intention, in that it allowed minors to consent to mental health examinations and treatment without parental consent. But because health care providers were interpreting the law differently, it meant that in some cases parents who knew or suspected that their child had a mental health issue were frozen out of the process. They could send their child for help, but if the child told a health care professional he or she didn’t think it was necessary, that’s often where it ended because the doctor couldn’t even discuss the case with the parents. This new rule restores some balance to the equation. And it accomplishes the same goal as bills I authored that passed the House in the last two legislative sessions.”

“I’m pleased to see the department finally step up and issue this clarification in order to clear up confusion about the rights of parents and minors surrounding mental health treatment under the 2004 law,” Ortitay said. “Representative Snyder and I have been working legislatively for several years to resolve this issue. I’m hopeful this new information will force the providers who were only allowing the minor child to consent to end this practice. Instead, under the law, parents have the right to and should be allowed to secure mental health treatment for their children. While this will not bring back the young girl from my district who didn’t receive the mental health treatment her mother sought, I hope this change will save others.”

Snyder’s legislation is H.B. 381, while Ortitay’s is H.B. 2126.