House Passes Monumental Mental Health Reform Legislation
U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) today announced that the House has overwhelming passed H.R. 2646, the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act, legislation, written by the only clinical psychologist serving in Congress, to reform our nation’s broken mental health care system. Davis, an early cosponsor of H.R. 2646, voted for the legislation, which passed with bipartisan support 422-2.
The Washington Post has called H.R. 2646 a ‘remarkable achievement’ to reforming our nation’s mental health care system.
“Whether it’s another mass killing or another suicide, which is now the second leading cause of death for adolescents and young adults, we’re reminded each time that our country is facing a mental health crisis that we cannot afford to ignore,” said Davis. “We are pouring billions of dollars every year into a system that is broken and failing to help those who need it. This bipartisan legislation changes the way we treat mental illness in this country and will help those suffering get the care they need when they need it. It takes steps to prevent our jails from being the de facto holding facilities for the mentally ill, coordinate more than 112 existing federal mental health programs, and improve communication between providers, families, and patients.”
Davis has made reforming our mental health system a priority by hosting roundtables and touring mental health facilities throughout his district to discuss ways to improve care. H.R. 2646 aims to fix many problems plaguing our mental health care system including the following:
· A recent study by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) highlighted that 112 federal programs intended to address mental illness are not connecting for effective service delivery and “interagency coordination for programs supporting individuals with serious mental illness is lacking.”
· A nationwide shortage of 100,000 psychiatric beds, and three of the largest mental health “hospitals” are in fact criminal incarceration facilities (LA County, Cook County, and Rikers Island jails).
· Current privacy rules prevent physicians from sharing important health information with family members of affected individuals, resulting in the neediest not receiving proper care.
· For every 2,000 children with a mental health disorder, there is one child psychiatrist available.
Specifically, H.R. 2646 makes the following reforms:
· Helps coordinate more than 112 federal mental health programs. It creates a new Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use to run the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Agency (SAMSHA) and help coordinate mental health program across the federal government.
· Clarifies HIPAA laws to improve communication. Directs the Secretary of HHS to undertake rulemaking to clarify when communication can take place under HIPAA to help ensure the best communication among providers, families and patients to improve mental health treatment for those with serious mental illness.
· Reduces the burden on our criminal justice system. Codifies a recent Medicaid managed care rule to foster access to care for short term stays of adults in institutions for mental disease.
· Improves outpatient treatment programs for children and adults. This bill includes targeted authorizations and reauthorizations to improve mental health care for children with serious emotional disturbance or adults with serious mental illness, including expansion of Assisted Outpatient Treatment and strengthen our mental health workforce.