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APA applauds US Reps. Murphy and Johnson for reintroducing comprehensive MH reform legislation

House Energy & Commerce Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Tim Murphy (R-PA) and Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) today reintroduced their groundbreaking Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act, H.R. 2646.

The revamped bill builds upon the previous bipartisan version. H.R. 2646 breaks down federal barriers to care, clarifies privacy standards for families and caregivers; reforms outdated programs, expands parity accountability, and invests in services for the most difficult to treat cases while driving evidence-based care.

“It is not just a new bill, but marks a new dawn for mental health care in America. We are moving mental health care from crisis response to recovery, and from tragedy to triumph,” said Murphy. “I am tremendously proud of the work we’ve accomplished and so encouraged about our nationwide grassroots support involved in advancing our legislative vision to help families in mental health crisis.”

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) praised U.S. Reps. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.) and Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas) for their reintroduction of comprehensive mental health reform legislation, the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act.

“The nation’s mental health system needs reform and investment—especially on behalf of patients and families living with serious mental illness. We applaud Representatives Murphy and Johnson,” said APA President Renée Binder, M.D. “Among the many important provisions of this bill are strengthening enforcement of mental health parity, enhancing the psychiatric workforce, ensuring better coordination of federal resources, and improving research and treatment for persons with mental illness, including substance use disorders.”

APA Letter of Support on HR 2646

On June 7, the Executive Committee of the Board voted unanimously to authorize a strong APA letter in support of the bipartisan comprehensive mental health reform legislation known as the “Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act”.  The letter APA sent is attached.  This legislation, also known as the Murphy-Johnson bill, was reintroduced in the U.S. House of Representatives last week, as you know.  It builds on last year’s bill, which was already widely considered the most pro-psychiatry legislation to be introduced in many years and which was unanimously supported by the Board in December 2014.  The new version of the bill contains very helpful new language on parity enforcement and on increasing the psychiatric workforce, as well as other changes to some of the provisions in last year’s bill.  

The next steps in the comprehensive reform debate will include Reps. Murphy and Johnson working with the leadership of the House Energy & Commerce Committee to move the bill towards a Committee vote, while they also continue to collaborate with Senators Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA) on the quickly developing Senate version.  The APA will remain deeply engaged in lobbying both bodies as they work towards possible votes in Committee, followed by House and possible Senate Floor votes in the coming months or beyond.  Differences between any resulting House and Senate bills would then be reconciled in a subsequent House-Senate Conference Committee that would typically take us well into 2016, although Rep. Murphy will lead a full court press to accelerate consideration if possible.

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