Parents made Jakes Law

How a need to make something better Became a Law - Jake's Law

Denise and Ben Denslow were determined to make a difference to help others.

As their State Representative, I did everything I could to bring people together to achieve their goal.  March 3, 2020 Jake's Law was signed into law.  My name was kept off the bill by Republican powers-that-be; scroll to the bottom for that unimportant part of this story. 

     Denise_and_Ben_Denslow_with_photo_of_Jacob_Edward_Machovsky_2020-0303.JPGJacob Edward Machovsky was lost to suicide on January 11, 2016. His parents, Ben and Denise Denslow established the JEM Foundation to honor him by helping others. JEM’s purpose is ending youth suicide.      

Denise and Ben describe,  "Jacob was hospitalized twice in under 2 months for suicidal ideation. Both times, Jake was released in only 5 days. The doctor and parents knew Jake wasn’t ready to be released, but the insurance company refused to pay for the needed care. ..."

I met Denise and Ben in about 2018 when I convened a gathering of people working for suicide prevention.  I introduced them to Bahney Dedolph with the Arizona Council for Human Service Providers who suggested to them,  that Jake's situation may have been a violation of the federal insurance parity law.   
We formed a broad coalition to define the problems and find solutions. 
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Throughout 2019, we met roughly every other week for a couple hours with experts in mental health, insurance, lobbyists,  parents and survivors of suicide and many others.  We reached out to people for their stories about mental health care insurance and 125 answered our survey.   
We knew there was a greater good to be achieved, and I knew that Denise and Ben were the best advocates I had ever met.  They did the research and never stopped connecting people to help.  
We developed a list of solutions including state laws to require insurance companies to cover mental health care in parity with physical healthcare.  It's a lot of reporting and enforcement of compliance and the bottom line is this:
You should get what you pay for in your insurance policy.  
We had a good list of solutions that would work and would make life better for people seeking mental health care.  It could prevent suicides.

This needs to be known about politics:

The Republican powers-that-be worked actively to keep my name off the bill, and to keep me out of press events. In the photos here, it was the parents and suicide survivors that invited me to the celebratory events when the bill was signed. Forever thanks to them! 

Why did the Republican power-brokers try to cut me out?  I cannot know their motivations.  I can only say that I do not trade my votes. I do not vote yes on bills that will rip-off consumers or harm the environment, in exchange to get a bill passed with my name on it.  

#1 Denise and Ben Denslow are forever my heroes for their persistent, intelligent pursuit of changes to insurance laws to help people get better mental health care.
#2 Together with a coalition of 100s of people, we gathered stories, analyzed data, and evaluated potential solutions starting in 2018, through all of 2019. Working with Mental Health America, the Kennedy Forum, the AZ Psychiatric Assn., and many other organizations and suicide survivors, we created a list of solutions including health insurance parity.
I was glad and honored to co-chair those meetings.  
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#3 - The Republican leadership in the AZ legislature quells Democrats from being prime-sponsors of bills that will pass.  Despite the fact that I had co-led the work on this bill for over a year, the GOP powers-that-be wanted the credit for the bill to go to Kate Brophy McGee and Jeff Weninger. Kate did also add a few school-counseling ideas to the list we developed in the coalition.  Her school counseling plans and our long list of insurance enforcements combined to become the bill that became, "Jake's Law."  
 
#4 - The fantastic Denise and Ben brought the bill to the AZ Senate, and handed it to Sen. Kate McGee.  In video, she says, "Parents brought the bill to me." 
   
#5 - Recognizing partisan politics, I just wanted the bill to be passed so it will help people.   The bill became law. 
Hurray for everybody who helped it along the way!
Rep. Jennifer Jermaine made made a good suggestion to cover special needs students for their full school careers.  Rep Barto and others made practical suggestions.  Lobbyist Carly Fleege was very dedicated to getting this bill signed into law.  

#6 - My Republican opponent in this 2020 election has an advertisement that claims I have not passed any bills. The ad is false on many levels, but most importantly this point:  

I did the work to solve a big problem.   ME-hopper_bill_Ins_Parity_2020-0210-became_Jakes_Law.jpg   

I always do the work. I work on things that will help solve a big problem. I do the research to define the problem; I do the outreach to find and evaluate solutions.  I check with many sides of the issue to assure it will work for the most people.  
    
Repeatedly, I asked Kate McGee to let me know when I could sign on to co-sponsor the bill that became Jake's Law (the Senate version). She kept putting me off, and Mr. Weninger never told me about his House version of the bill until it was in the hopper with no chance for me to co-sponsor it.   Speaker Bowers neglected to assign my version of the bill to any committees until after the McGee bill was done. 
    
That ad from my Republican opponent that came out in late October 2020 is disturbing because it is so far from the truth.  
Truth matters.  
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Gov. Ducey has actively kept my name off the various press releases about Jake's Law, and I can live with that much partisan games-playing. But this campaign ad goes a step further to say that I have not passed any bills.
I've done the work. Republicans from Gov. Ducey to Sen. McGee and Rep. Weninger and more have done their level best to rip-off my work and claim it for their own. I'm okay with them claiming credit for the work. Indeed it was an enormous collaboration.
But saying that I did not do the work is a lie.
Truth matters.

I did the work -- leading and persisting and always collaborating with others -- to reduce the suicide rates in Arizona:

  • 2017-18 We added a Statewide Suicide Prevention Coordinator to the ongoing AZ Budget.
  • 2017-18 We developed a Suicide Prevention ToolKit for Schools, which is utilized and furthered by the State Suicide Prevention Coordinator
  • 2019-20 We passed the Suicide Prevention Training for Teachers bill, The Mitch Warnock Law, and furthered it with Sen. Bowie.
  • 2019-20 I led the collaboration for Jake's Law, with Ben and Denise as the brilliant heroes who always kept going and always kept finding a way to get it done.
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