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Senate and House Efforts Indicate Progress Since Sandy Hook Tragedy

Washington, DC (December 12, 2013) – The Senate Finance Committee today voted to include the bipartisan Excellence in Mental Health Act as an amendment to the SGR Repeal legislation.  The Excellence Act, sponsored by Senators Stabenow (D-MI) and Blunt (R-MO), would improve quality and expand access to mental health care through community mental health providers.  The legislation would establish a 10 state demonstration program to offer a broad range of mental health services like 24-hour crisis psychiatric services while setting new high standards for providers.  The legislation now moves to the full Senate for consideration.

Meanwhile, Congressman Tim Murphy (R-PA), Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Oversight & Investigations Subcommittee, introduced comprehensive mental health legislation today, which included a major Medicaid demonstration program drawn from the bipartisan Excellence in Mental Health Act.

The National Council for Mental Wellbeing has long been a champion of the Excellence Act, which would expand access to evidenced-based community health care for children and adults with serious and persistent mental illnesses.  If enacted, the legislation will reduce high hospital emergency room utilization among persons living with behavioral health conditions while easing the burden on hard-pressed law enforcement agencies in urban and rural areas.  Additionally, the Excellence Act demonstration will assist the Veterans Administration (VA) with serving the young men and women returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with service connected mental disorders including clinical depression and PTSD.

“In the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy, Americans have been waiting for Washington to do something meaningful to ensure that more people can get the mental health care they need,” said Linda Rosenberg, President and CEO of the National Council.  “Today, we got one major step closer to that important goal.  If enacted, communities across the country will benefit from improved access to mental health services.  Much work remains to be done to see the Excellence Act become law, and I urge all members of Congress to support it.

”To arrange media interviews with Linda Rosenberg of the National Council for Mental Wellbeing, please contact: Robert Schwartz at or via phone at 202-207-3665

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