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Senate, House Lawmakers to Push Mental Health Reform

Capitol Connector
Your source for the latest updates from Capitol Hill. We translate policy into practice so you can learn how policy trends will affect your work and how best to prepare.

Michael Petruzzelli

, National Council for Behavioral Health

Senate, House Lawmakers to Push Mental Health Reform

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Last week, Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Representative Tim Murphy (R-PA) outlined plans to introduce a pair of mental health reform bills next month. Rep. Murphy plans to reintroduce a version of a House bill he pushed in the last Congress – the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act – while Sen. Murphy said he plans to introduce a slightly different bill in the Senate around the same time.

The Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act was introduced after a series of hearings Rep. Murphy held in the wake of the 2012 Newtown tragedy. The bill, which had bipartisan support in the last Congress, touches on a range of issues in the mental health care system, from privacy and assisted outpatient treatment laws to same-day billing for mental and primary care services in Medicaid and prescription drug coverage under Medicare. Rep. Murphy’s also included behavioral health providers as a part of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, providing financial incentives for the adoption of electronic health records.

No details have yet emerged from Senator Murphy’s office regarding how his planned legislation will align with or differ from the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act. The National Council commends both lawmakers for their efforts to raise public awareness of the important issue of mental health and to build a sustained discussion and debate around improving our nation’s mental health care system.