DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — A new bill suggests a small fee for phone bills to support the function of crisis hotline 9-8-8 in Ohio.
July marked one year since the 9-8-8 National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline launched in Ohio. Until now, it has been fully-funded by the federal government.
House Bill 231 proposes a charge of 10 cents per month to phone bills to create a new stream of revenue for the hotline. HB 231 states unused funds will roll over and remain in the fund, not be used for other expenses.
The charge will be applied to monthly bills for:
- Subscribers of wireless service
- Subscribers of voice over internet protocol (VOIP) service
- Wireline service customers
- Prepaid wireless phone sales
HB 231 outlines that collected money will be used to ensure efficient and effective routing of calls to appropriate crisis centers. The funds will also help maintain personnel for centers and mobile teams throughout the state to provide crisis response services.
Operating costs related to serving at-risk communities, crisis centers, and behavioral health and stabilization services will also come from the fund. Additional funds will be applied to hiring staff at local addiction and mental health services to oversee and assist the hotline.
According to Ohio Mental Health and Addiction Services, an average of 8,793 calls were made to 9-8-8 in Ohio from July 2022 to May 2023.