The Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act: a good start
Last week, the House of Representatives passed the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act (H.R. 2646) by an overwhelming 422-2.
The bill – originally introduced three years ago by Reps. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.) and Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas) in the aftermath of the 2012 Newtown tragedy reflected the frustration of many who know we can and should do better when it comes to people with serious mental illnesses. Families left without support to care for loved ones, law enforcement officers who too often are caretakers of last resort, medical professionals who have been marginalized, and the public frightened by highly publicized tragedies – all wanted change.
Tim Murphy put words to those frustrations and stimulated a long simmering and much needed conversation. His bill underwent substantial revisions as differing points of view weighed in and costs became an issue. Less than some hoped, nevertheless the bill contains important provisions, including codification of Medicaid coverage for inpatient mental health care, HIPAA education programs, reports and transparency on parity, and grant programs.
The bill is important progress. But generations of neglect and inequity keep services out of the reach of those desperately in need of care.
To learn more about the provisions in the bill and what I think needs to be added, visit the Hill’s Congress Blog and read my op-ed, “The Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act: a good start.”