Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association
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Mental Health Legislation on Congressional To-Do List for 2016
Leadership in both the House and Senate have signaled a commitment to move mental health legislation in early 2016. The White House has been silent on the substance of current legislation.
The House will start with the amended version of Representative Murphy's bill that passed out of the Health Subcommittee of the Energy and Commerce a Committee this fall. (View the current version of HR 2646.) Speaker Ryan has signaled a willingness to give floor time to mental health reform legislation in the event is can emerge through regular committee order in the House. As it stands the legislation would require consideration by the full House Energy and Commerce Committee to proceed. In addition, one or more other House committees could claim jurisdiction over various parts of the legislation, which may lead to further amendment, additional processes through alternate Committees, or an agreement to waive jurisdiction.
The Senate Health Education Labor and Pensions Committee is likely to take up Senator Murphy's parallel bill for consideration early in 2016 as well. (View S. 1945.) However, others in the Senate are likely to weigh in with proposals either as amendments or alternative approaches. The Senate Finance Committee may share jurisdiction over the current content of legislative proposals but has not indicated whether metal health could receive separate focus as the committee continues to work on their Chronic Care Initiative in 2016. Further, the Senate Judiciary Committee could consider Senator Cornyn’s legislation, which focuses on accessibility of guns to individuals that have or may have mental health issues. (View S. 2002.)
The White House has been silent on the Murphy Bills, likely because it remains early in the legislative process. Considering the legislation features a restructuring of SAMHSA, the Administration is sure to have an interest in the shape of the bills if they gain momentum. It is possible for the Administration to weigh in with technical assistance, proposed amendments, support an alternative, or even issue a veto threat - but none of these actions have yet been taken.
All eyes will be on these federal congressional actions when Congress returns for legislative session - in a year with only 111 legislating days due to the upcoming elections- in January 2016.