TN Lawmakers Push Updated Psychiatric Bed Registry To Cut Emergency Room Burden

May 12, 2023 | Political News

Amid the debate over mental health care versus gun control, two Rutherford County lawmakers are hoping to improve the flow of mentally unstable patients to psychiatric hospitals from emergency rooms.

House Bill 827 sponsored by Rep. Mike Sparks, R-Smyrna, and Sen. Shane Reeves, R-Murfreesboro, would require psychiatric hospitals to make daily updates to the state’s bed tracking system for children, adults and seniors beginning in January 2025.

The bill ran into opposition this year and was postponed until 2024 in the House Health Committee even though the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee passed the measure 9-0 and sent it to be scheduled for consideration on the Senate floor. 

In advance of an Aug. 21 special session designed to deal with mass shootings such as the killing of six people at The Covenant School in Nashville, lawmakers are debating the need for gun-law reform as opposed to mental health treatment. Sparks contends now is the time to make sure people are getting into psychiatric hospitals before they do something rash.