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Wisconsin Assembly approves mental health service bills

MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - Wisconsinites would find it much easier to obtain mental health services, under a package of 13 bills approved Tuesday by the state Assembly. 

Speaker Robin Vos calls it the most comprehensive set of mental health reforms in a generation.

The Republican Vos says the bills address a wide range of concerns, from access to mental health care, to improved coordination of emergency detentions. The package would spend an additional $4 million through the middle of 2015. 

The measures were proposed by a task force earlier this year. Its chairwoman, Shorewood Assembly Democrat Sandy Pasch, called it an important first step to addressing shortfalls in Wisconsin's mental health system. 

Vos expects approvals from the Senate when it returns to session early next year. 

Among other things, it would be easier for mental health patients to seek treatments at home.  Doctors would have a consultation line for advice on treatment choices. Law enforcement would get grants to improve their response to crisis situations involving mental illness. And incentives would encourage more doctors to practice in rural areas.