Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act Takes a Major Step Forward 

Treatment Advocacy Center –  June 9, 2016

WASHINGTON, DC – For families exhausted from battling a broken mental health system, finally there is light at the end of the tunnel.
The House Energy and Commerce Committee, chaired by Representative Fred Upton (R-MI), has scheduled a full committee markup next Wednesday, June 15, to consider HR 2646, the landmark mental health reform legislation introduced last year by Representatives Tim Murphy (R-PA) and Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX).
The Teatment Advocacy Center has been closely monitoring the negotiation process and we are pleased that despite the many competing interests, the bill hasn’t lost its focus on severe mental illness.
Among the most important reforms we expect to see:
  • Reforming SAMHSA: Creates an Assistant Secretary of Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders – who must be a medical doctor – to coordinate efforts and elevate the importance of mental health and severe mental illness in the federal government;
  • Funding AOT: Authorizes an additional two years of funding for the Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT) federal grant program to catalyze communities to implement this lifesaving, evidence-based treatment program;
  • Addressing P&A: Provides important oversight and reporting requirements for federal Protection & Advocacy organizations to ensure that these vital programs are properly focused on their mission;
  • Other major fixes: 
    • Codifies the recently released IMD rule allowing for up to 15 days per month of inpatient psychiatric care for many Medicaid beneficiaries and requires the extension of 1115 waivers to provide other avenues to address IMD;
    • Takes important steps to begin the reformation of HIPAA, including requiring HHS to pass new regulations detailing when and how mental health information can be shared with families and caregivers;
    • Strengthens community crisis response, including grants for the creation of community bed databases;
    • Authorizes grant funding to create new assertive community treatment (ACT) teams.

Details on the time and location will be posted here, as they become available.