Consent Decree

This page is intended for recipients of mental health services; families; mental health service providers; advocates; and all other interested parties. It includes a brief overview of the Consent Decree, the current Consent Decree Plan and Standards, guidance documents, quarterly data and progress reports, and forms.

The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) entered into an agreement settling a class action lawsuit that was brought on behalf of residents of the Augusta Mental Health Institute (AMHI). The purpose was to correct problems at AMHI and ensure access to community based mental health services. Modifications have been made over the years and the Consent Decree is now known as Bates v. DHHS. In 2007, the Maine Law Court ruled that the Consent Decree applies to all adults with Serious Mental Illness (SMI) not just the original class members.

In January of 2021, DHHS and the counsel for the plaintiffs (Disability Rights Maine) entered into a new agreement and set of standards that must be met in order to achieve substantial compliance and ultimately end the Consent Decree. The focus of the current standards is on:

  • Timely access to services for adults experiencing Serious Mental Illness
  • Contract management and enforcement of rules
  • Making effective use of inpatient capacity at Riverview Psychiatric Center
  • Timely reporting

The Department engaged in rule making and contract modifications to make clear that providers receiving MaineCare and/or OBH funding must comply with the terms of the Consent Decree. Referrals for most mental health services cannot be refused and services cannot be terminated for of adults with SMI without authorization from OBH, and timely admissions are required (see MaineCare rules for Sections 17, 65, 92, and 97 “Protections for Adults with Serious and Persistent Mental Illness”). Additional guidance for providers regarding requesting authorization to decline a referral or terminate services will be added to this page in July 2021.

Consent Decree related Provider forms are within the Kepro Atrezzo system and include Referral Refusal Authorization, Termination Authorization, PNMI Referral, Kepro for current provider forms

For more information on the Consent Decree or concerns regarding rule violations related to the Consent Decree, contact Emily Leighton, (207) 287-2547.