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North Carolina considers enhancing mental health for first responders


A bill that would provide supplemental health care services and salary benefits to first responders diagnosed with certain mental conditions was introduced Wednesday in North Carolina’s House of Representatives.

H.B. 523 would create a mental health care benefits plan as a supplemental insurance policy that would provide reimbursement of up to $5,000 per 12-month period for any out-of-pocket medical expenses incurred and would include a salary benefit equal to 75% of the first responder's monthly salary or up to $5,000 a month for up to 12 months.

The bill would also introduce a disability program for up to 36 months, providing 75% of the first responder's monthly salary or up to $5,000 a month.

According to the bill, the program would cover “stress, mental injury, or mental illness that is medically diagnosed as an anxiety disorder, conduct disorder, depressive disorder, obsessive-compulsive and related disorder, sleep-wake disorder, or trauma and stressor-related disorder as described in the most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders published by the American Psychiatric Association.”

The state Department of Insurance would run the program, which would aim “to promote healing and the return to service of first responders,” the bill states.