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Jacquelyn Sommer

Manager, Policy and Advocacy

Mental Health Reform Could be Tied to Addictions Legislation

June 9, 2016 | Uncategorized | Comments
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Last week, rumors circulated on Capitol Hill that a mental health reform bill might be added to the opioid legislation that is currently being worked on by a conference committee.  The idea is being floated by several congressional aides who are suggesting the possibility of adding the Mental Health Reform Act (S.2680) sponsored by Chris Murphy (D- CT) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA) to the opioid legislation in conference.

This potential move has supporters and detractors.  Supporters claim that this may be the only chance in the current election year to pass a bill that achieves comprehensive mental health care reform.  Detractors are worried that any addition to the opioid legislation weakens its chances of passage, meaning that neither comprehensive addiction nor mental health care reform could be achieved this year.  CARA (S.524) and the group of opioid bills passed by the House of Representatives have broad bipartisan support and many Members of Congress agree that the bill that comes out of this conference committee has a reasonable chance of passing in both the House and Senate and being sent to the President’s desk this year.

All of this speculation may be superfluous because it is unclear if the House would even be amiable to adding the Cassidy-Murphy bill to the opioid legislation due to the fact that they have been working on their own version of mental health care reform.  The House bill sponsored by Congressman Tim Murphy (R-PA) is slated for mark up by the House Energy and Commerce Committee later this month.

As legislation progresses in both the House and Senate, stay informed by reading our weekly Capitol Connector newsletter!  The National Council continues to closely monitor the situation and will update its members on any developments or opportunities for advocacy as they appear.