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A bill that will vastly improve Ohio’s laws on assisted outpatient treatment was signed into law this week by Gov. John Kasich.

Even though assisted outpatient treatment (AOT) has long been a legal option in the Buckeye state, Kasich’s signature rewards years of perseverance by Ohioans determined to make court-ordered outpatient treatment more widely available.

Until this point, only Summit and Butler counties have managed to issue AOT orders successfully. Elsewhere, ambiguity in the wording of the AOT law and uncertainty about how to apply it led to its under-use – and left countless individuals with serious mental illness stuck in the revolving door of hospitalization, incarceration and homelessness.

The amendments enacted yesterday will encourage greater implementation of AOT by improving the state’s commitment standard and by allowing private individuals – including family members – to petition the courts for involuntary commitment of a person in need, among other changes.

The Treatment Advocacy Center offers thanks and congratulations to the many families and stakeholder groups who fought for the law’s passage under the steadfast leadership of NAMI-Ohio.

We also offer thanks to the legislation’s primary sponsors: Sen. Dave Burke (R-Marysville), Sen. Charleta Tavares (D-Columbus), Rep. Peter Stautberg (R-Anderson Township) and Rep. Margaret Ann Ruhl (R-Mount Vernon) who shepherded the bill through unanimous votes in the Ohio House and Senate OR whose leadership resulted in unanimous approval in both the Ohio House and Senate.

Working with Health Management Associates in Ohio and funding from the Margaret Clark Morgan Foundation, the Treatment Advocacy Center is currently in the final stages of preparing a cost-savings study of AOT based in part on the Summit County, Ohio, experience. With the new law on the books and the study results in hand, welook forward to working with our Ohio friends to promote widespread implementation of this proven method of helping at-risk individuals live safely and successfully in their communities

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