U.S. House Passes Most Significant Reform of American Mental Health Care in Decades

July 7, 2016
Blog Post

On Wednesday (July 6), the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 2646, the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act of 2015. The bill would make psychiatric, psychological, and supportive services available to individuals with mental illness and the families of individuals in mental health crisis.

The bill, introduced by Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Tim Murphy of Pennsylvania, the HFMHCA represents the most significant reform of our nation’s mental health care programs in decades. According to the House Republican Conference, the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act of 2015 does the following:

  • The bill would create 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;
  • H.R. 2646 would also create a National Mental Health and Substance Use Lab to drive evidence-based grants;
  • The bill would direct 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;
  • The Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act would also codify a recent Medicaid managed care rule to foster access to care for short term stays of adults in institutions for mental disease;
  • The bill also 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; and
  • H.R. 2646 is also fiscally responsible and fully offset according to analysis from the Congressional Budget Office. 

The battle against mental illness is not something you have to do alone. There are many resources available for individuals and families. To find help, consider the following resources: