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3/28/2024 Senate passes DiMario bill to continue funding Psychiatry Resource Network

STATE HOUSE – The Senate today passed a bill sponsored by Sen. Alana M. DiMario that would provide a stable funding mechanism for a psychiatric resource network for providers treating children and new parents.

The Rhode Island Psychiatry Resource Network (PRN) is a statewide teleconsultation resource for medical providers composed two programs: RI MomsPRN, which serves providers treating pregnant and postpartum patients, and PediPRN, which serves primary care providers treating children and adolescents. Both programs provide medical professionals with access to consultations with licensed mental health professionals to assist them in treating the mental health concerns of their patients.

Senator DiMario, who has worked with new mothers as an outpatient mental health provider for over a decade, said that new mothers facing postpartum mental health difficulties face numerous challenges reaching out to a psychiatrist, including finding a psychiatrist who accepts their insurance and is taking new patients, opening up to a total stranger during a difficult time and the challenge of fitting in a new appointment while caring for a newborn.

“Once the MomsPRN program launched, it meant that a postpartum person seeing their trusted provider could leave from that first appointment with resources for therapy as well as a prescription that could start providing immediate relief,” said Senator DiMario (D-Dist. 36, Narragansett, North Kingstown, New Shoreham). “The launching of this program was like a light turning on for so many women who previously were sitting alone in the dark.”

PediPRN works similarly for parents with children who are struggling, allowing them to access psychiatric support through their trusted pediatrician instead having to start from scratch finding a psychiatric provider who treats children and accepts their insurance.

PRN is currently funded by a federal grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration, which expires at the end of 2024. This bill (2024-S 2072) would provide a sustainable funding source to keep PRN running by adding a dedicated account to Rhode Island’s existing health care services funding plan, which is funded by an assessment on private insurers operating in Rhode Island.

“This program is available to any postpartum or pediatric patient and their provider, regardless of insurance. Because of this, it is a huge advance in equity of access to psychiatric care,” said Senator DiMario. “If we allow this program to lapse, we will not be able to duplicate this level of access. By maintaining this program, we also conserve the time of our practicing psychiatrists here in Rhode Island for more complex patients.”

The bill now heads to the House for consideration where Rep. Mary Ann Shallcross Smith (D-Dist. 46, Lincoln, Pawtucket) has introduced companion legislation (2024-H 7204).

For more information, contact:
Tristan Grau, Publicist
State House Room B20
Providence, RI 02903