Senate Bill No. 548
(By Senators Browning and Kessler (Acting President))
[Introduced February 18, 2011; referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.]
A BILL to amend and reenact §27-4-1 and §27-4-3 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, all relating to increasing the age of consent that a minor may refuse mental health treatment from twelve to eighteen; and clarifying that the state not be obligated to pay for voluntary hospitalization.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That §27-4-1 and §27-4-3 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, be amended and reenacted, all to read as follows:
ARTICLE 4. VOLUNTARY HOSPITALIZATION.
§27-4-1. Authority to receive voluntary patients.
The chief medical officer of a mental health facility, subject to the availability of suitable accommodations and to the rules and regulations promulgated by the board of health, shall admit for diagnosis, care and treatment any individual:
(a) Over eighteen years of age who is mentally ill, mentally retarded or addicted or who has manifested symptoms of mental illness, mental retardation or addiction and who makes application for hospitalization; or
(b) Under eighteen years of age who is mentally ill, mentally retarded or addicted or who has manifested symptoms of mental illness, mental retardation or addiction and there is application for hospitalization therefor in his or her behalf: (1) By the parents of such person; or (2) if only one parent is living, then by such parent; or (3) if the parents are living separate and apart, by the parent who has the custody of such person; or (4) if there is a guardian who has custody of such person, then by such guardian. Such admission shall be conditioned upon the consent of the prospective patient if he or she is twelve eighteen years of age or over.
(c) No person under eighteen years of age shall be admitted under this section to any state hospital unless said person has first been reviewed and evaluated by a local mental health facility and recommended for admission.
(d) Nothing in this section may be construed to obligate the State of West Virginia for costs of hospitalizations permitted by the provisions of this section.
§27-4-3. Right to release on application.
A voluntary patient who requests his or her release or whose release is requested in writing by his or her parents, parent, guardian, spouse or adult next of kin shall be released forthwith except that:
(a) If the patient was admitted on his or her own application, and request for release is made by a person other than the patient, release shall be conditioned upon the agreement of the patient thereto;
(b) If the patient is under twelve eighteen years of age, his or her release prior to becoming twelve eighteen years of age may be conditioned upon the consent of the person or persons who applied for his or her admission; or
(c) If, within ninety-six hours of the receipt of the request, the chief medical officer of the mental health facility in which the patient is hospitalized files with the clerk of the circuit court or mental hygiene commissioner of the county where the facility is situated an application for involuntary hospitalization as provided in section four, article five of this chapter, release may be postponed for twenty days pending a finding in accordance with the legal proceedings prescribed therein.
Legal proceedings for involuntary hospitalization shall not be commenced with respect to a voluntary patient unless release of the patient has been requested by him or her or the individual or individuals who applied for his or her admission.
NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to change the age of consent for refusal of mental health treatment from twelve to eighteen. The bill also clarifies that the state is not obligated to pay for voluntary hospitalizations.
Strike-throughs indicate language that would be stricken from the present law, and underscoring indicates new language that would be added.