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Arizona Gov. Ducey Signs Mental Health Legislation In Response To Teen Suicide Rates

Arizona Gov.  Doug Ducey signed new mental health legislation Tuesday that requires insurance companies to pay for mental health care the same way they cover physical ailments.

It directs $8 million to cover mental health treatments for children and teens who are uninsured or under insured. Ducey said it’s a response to an increase in teen suicides.

“Tragically, in our state suicide is the second leading cause of death for people between the ages of 15 and 34,” Ducey said.

Schools will have to develop procedures for referring students to mental health providers, and hospitals will have new requirements for discharging suicidal patients.

The measure creates a team of experts to investigate suicides by minors, with the power to subpoena documents, review medical records and conduct interviews. The team is tasked with developing recommendations for reducing the number of suicides.

Jake's Law is the result of lobbying by parents who lost children to suicide. It's named for Jacob Machovsky, whose parents say he was hospitalized twice for suicidal ideation but was released prematurely because of issues with his health insurance. He died by suicide four years ago.

Tara Plese is the chief external affairs officer for the Arizona Alliance for Community Health Centers, and she joined The Show to talk about why she advocated for the bill. 

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Senior field correspondent Bridget Dowd has a bachelor’s degree from Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.