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Utah lawmakers pass bill to allow Medicaid billing for in-school mental health services

In this Monday, Jan. 22, 2018 photo, Republican Sen. Lincoln Fillmore looks on from the Senate floor at the Utah State Capitol, in Salt Lake City.
FILE - In this Monday, Jan. 22, 2018 photo, Republican Sen. Lincoln Fillmore looks on from the Senate floor at the Utah State Capitol, in Salt Lake City. The Utah House of Representatives gave final passage to SB106 Wednesday, a bill to allow certain mental health services provided in Utah public schools to be billed to Medicaid.
Rick Bowmer, Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah House of Representatives gave final passage to the latest version of SB106 Wednesday, a bill to allow certain mental health services provided in Utah public schools to be billed to Medicaid.

SB106, sponsored by Sen. Lincoln Fillmore, R-South Jordan, also says health care plans cannot deny claims solely because they were provided in schools.

Rep. Susan Pulsipher, R-South Jordan, the bill's floor sponsor in the Utah House of Representatives, said the bill does not require health plans to cover the services.

The House approved the bill on a vote of 66-4.

In committee debate earlier in the legislative session, Fillmore said his legislative district includes Herriman, which experienced a spate of teen and young adult deaths by suicide last year. Jordan School District now employs 65 school psychologists who provide clinical mental health services to students who need help, he said.

"Because they work in schools, claims that they submit are often denied by insurance companies and the state's Medicaid program doesn't have a mental health option for students in schools, even though our Medicaid does provide reimbursement to schools that may provide occupational therapy or physical therapy," he said.

Several people spoke in support of the bill, some of them school teachers in rural Utah whose students need mental services and have few options in their small communities.