Two Pending Congressional Bills On Mental Illness

English: An American Lady butterfly against a ...

English: An American Lady butterfly against a cloud-filled sky. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Which of the two Bills do you endorse?

The Murphy Bill Empowers Parents and Caregivers:

  • Clarifies the Health Information Portability and Accountability (HIPPA) privacy rule and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. It would allow physicians and mental health professionals can provide crucial information to parents and caregivers about a loved one in an Acute mental health crisis to protect their health, safety, and wellbeing.
  • Unlike private health insurance or Medicare, Medicaid will not reimburse for inpatient medical care at a psychiatric facility with more than 16 beds (IMD Institute for Mental Disease).  The bill will increase access to inpatient psychiatric care for the most critically ill patients by making narrowly tailored exceptions to the IMD.
  • Promotes alternatives to long-term inpatient care, such as court-ordered “Assisted Outpatient Treatment.” AOT allows the court to direct treatment in the community for the hardest to treat patients-fewer than 1 percent of the people with SMI (severe mental illness) who have a history of arrest, repeat hospitalizations, and violence, because of their illness. AOT has reduced rates of imprisonment, homelessness, substance abuse, and costly emergency room visits for chronically mentally ill participants of upward to 70 percent. It has reduced Medicaid costs by 46 percent for participants.
  • Modeled on a successful state project in Massachusetts, the bill advances tele-psychiatry to link pediatricians and primary care physicians with psychologists.
  • Creates an Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders position within the Department of Health and Human Services to coordinate federal government programs and ensure recipients of the community mental health service block grant use evidence-based models of care.
  • Emphasizes evidence-based treatments, reforms and unauthorized programs, and strengthens congressional oversight of all behavioral health grants. Applies rigorous quality standards for a new class of Federally Qualified Behavioral Health Clinics.
  • Protects patients who are treated in the healthcare system from being warehoused in the criminal justice system. Mental health courts are provided cost-effective and responsible alternatives to incarcerating the MI.
  • Protects certain classes of drugs, commonly used to treat mental illness, so physicians are able to prescribe the right medication for those on Medicare and Medicaid.
  • The Department of Education will undertake a national campaign aimed at reducing the stigma of Severe Mental Illness in schools. Reauthorizes the Garrett Lee Smith suicide prevention program.
  •  Extends the Health Information Technology Incentive program to mental health providers.
  • Eliminates federal legal barriers under the Federal Tort Claims Act that prevent physician volunteerism at community mental health clinics and federally qualified health centers.

 Contact: Congressman Tim Murphy ~ http://murphy.house.gov

The Ron Barber Bill – “Strengthening Mental Health in our Communities.” Bill would increase mental health funding for veterans and active-duty service members.

  • Create “Mental Health First Aid” programs in schools and communities.
  • Create a White House Office of Mental Health Policy.
  • Make hospital care more accessible to seniors with mental illness.
  • Require Medicare to cover and treat mental health hospitalizations. Currently Medicare sets a 190-day lifetime cap on inpatient psychiatric care.
  • Create a new Assistant Secretary of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Disorders.
  • Requires that states that get federal mental health grants to change their standards for involuntary psychiatric commitment, allowing people to be hospitalized against their will, when they need treatment.
  • Provide families with more information about their loved one’s care.
  • Allow hospitals to be reimbursed for short term care including IMD’s.

Contact: Congressman Ron Barber ~ http://barber.house.gov

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One thought on “Two Pending Congressional Bills On Mental Illness

  1. Pingback: “Local lawmakers back Pa. bill changing mental-health treatment” | Pennsylvania Mental Health Issues

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