Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association
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House Subcommittee Approves Amended Murphy Bill
On November 4, the U.S. House Energy & Commerce Committee Subcommittee on Health advanced seven bills including the “Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act (H.R. 2646 introduced by Rep. Tim Murphy, R-PA.) The Health Subcommittee did not pass the bill as introduced, approving instead an amendment in the form of a substitute.
Prior to the legislation being considered by the Subcommittee, PRA joined with the National Coalition for MH Recovery and the National Association of County Behavioral Health and Developmental (NACBHDD) to send a letter calling on Congress to make critical changes to the legislation prior to advancing.
Changes that were ultimately made to the proposed legislation are likely a disappointment rather than an improvement for PRA members. The following provisions that PRA supports or views favorably have been removed:
• Expansion of the “Excellence in Mental Health Act” set to pilot certified community behavioral health clinics (CCBHCs) beginning in 2017.
• Inclusion of behavioral health providers in federal health IT funding incentive programs.
• Repeal of the 190-day Medicare lifetime limit on psychiatric hospitalization.
The amended legislation would also allow states to shift funds between the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant and the Mental Health Block Grant. PRA is considering whether this provision is of potential concern for our members.
The amended bill continues to expand, encourage, and provide significant funding for the expansion of Assisted Outpatient Therapy (AOT), which PRA strongly opposes.
Procedurally, the legislation can now be considered by the full House Energy and Commerce Committee where it could be further amended, however no action has been scheduled at the full Committee level.