Pennsylvania Bills for Mental Health and Disability Legislation

By Kraig Hill

Awareness of disabilities and mental health has continued to increase greatly in our society over recent years. The Legislative Action Center of Pennsylvania is showing support for improved disability and mental health legislation. Here is their list of ten bills that “must see action in 2020”.

DISCLAIMER: Three Rivers Music Therapy, LLC is not a public ally of the Legislative Action Center of Pennsylvania and does not have a stance on any current or proposed legislation. This content is only intended to present information about disability and mental health legislation in the state of Pennsylvania.

House Bill 1739/Senate Bill 580 - The Family Care Act

According to the Legislative Action Center this bill will “create the Pennsylvania Family & Medical Leave Insurance Program and Family & Medical Leave Insurance Fund”. This would include imposing duties on the Department of Labor and Industry. 

Senate Bill 914 - Adult Changing Stations

This bill would require every building owned by the State of Pennsylvania and large facilities available to the public to install adult changing stations. Under this law, changing tables are required to be able to lower to a height of no less than 8 inches, raise to a height of at least 34 inches, be at least 6 feet long and 2 feet wide, and support at least 350 pounds.

House Bill 2202/Senate Bill 890 - Medical Assistance

This would give employees with disabilities the opportunity to increase their earnings while also receiving medical assistance. This will establish a medical assistance purchase program specifically for workers with disabilities and those with disabilities that have improved through medical treatment.

House Bill 1548 - Improved Hiring Process

This bill would develop a more efficient hiring process for qualified individuals with disabilities. Under this legislation, an appointed authority would be able to hire candidates whose disabilities impact their ability to take part in the competitive process of gaining employment in a more effective manner.

House Bill 2188 - DeafBlind Support Service Providers

House Bill 2188 gives DeafBlind Pennsylvanians access to Support Service Providers with the development of an expiring grant program. This bill classifies a person who is deafblind as an individual who has 20/200 vision or less in their better eye, has permanent hearing loss that impedes communication, and has a difficult time gaining employment because of the combination of the two impairments. If an individual is not able to be accurately measured for vision or hearing loss, they may still be classified as deafblind if it is determined that they have significant vision and hearing loss through functional and performance evaluation.

House Bill 1500 - Mental Health Professionals in Schools

House Bill 1500 would require Pennsylvania school districts to provide a necessary complement to school counselors, psychologists, social workers, nurses, and other similar professions. All of these professionals would be present on every school campus. This would apply to both private and parochial schools.

House Bill 590 - Mental Health and Disability Education

This bill proposes the addition of curriculum requirements that would educate students about mental health, physical, and developmental disabilities in health classes. The curriculum would be constructed in the most appropriate manner according to age group. Children are to be taught this from the very start of their formal education in elementary school.

House Bill 1696 - Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity

This bill ensures that Pennsylvania insurance carriers that cover behavioral health are compliant with the regulations of the Federal Mental Health and Addiction Parity act. The insurance carriers would be required to submit information to the Pennsylvania Department of Insurance that would validate compliance.

Senate Bill 437 - Psychiatric Bed Registry System

This would provide an essential real-time, voluntary reporting system to provide notice of available psychiatric beds in the area. This includes the development of an online acute care mental health bed registry. The online method would be an additional option for patients.

House Bill 432 - The Worker’s Compensation Act

House Bill 432 provides certain first responders with a more expansive package of workers’ compensation benefits. This will extend coverage for individuals who have had post traumatic stress injuries.

House Bill 1438/Senate Bill 1094 - Music Therapy Licensure Standards

House Bill 1438 and Senate Bill 1094 outline the requirements that an individual must meet to become a board certified music therapist in the state of Pennsylvania. Individuals in pursuit of a board certification have to undergo mandatory educational and clinical training. This includes a minimum of 1200 clinical hours and a 4 year degree or its equivalent. They must also obtain state recognition of their profession and credentials in order to sell music therapy services to consumers. 

Contact Your State Representatives/Senators

If you are a resident of Pennsylvania and are interested in learning more information or taking further action to advocate for any of these bills please contact your representative or a senator for your district.

You can find contact information for a representative or senator by visiting: