PRA Weighs in on New “Murphy Bill”

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PsyR Connections 2015 Issue 2
August 4, 2015

Cherilyn Cepriano, CAE, JD, Vice President, Public Policy

Representative Tim Murphy (R-PA-18) has introduced a revised version of legislation aimed at reform of key federal and state programs for mental health in the “Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act of 2015” (H.R. 2646). In a public statement PRA thanked Mr. Murphy for engaging with stakeholders to review and revise prior iterations of this legislation and making several important changes.  PRA also expressed appreciation for several important policy changes included in the bill, including bringing integrated care into a mental health home for consumers through Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics and extension of access to resources to behavioral health professionals to adopt electronic health records.

However, PRA minced no words in calling for Congress to further amend this legislation to eliminate proposed grant programs to encourage and support the expansion of “Assisted Outpatient Treatment” (AOT) in the states and to eliminate the proposed linkages between the Community Mental Health and Substance Abuse Block Grant and AOT, including a funding incentive.  PRA also expressed concern with the proposed reorganization of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHA) contained in H.R. 2646 and cautioned sponsors of this legislation to ensure that any SAMHSA reorganization would only elevate and promote the criticality of mental health and substance abuse prevention and treatment within the federal government.

PRA looks forward to the opportunity to work with Mr. Murphy, legislative cosponsors, and committees of jurisdiction on improving this legislation to ensure that it protects and serves – and not harm – the consumers and families it seeks to help.  To join PRA on this and other important advocacy efforts, please consider volunteering to join the PRA Public Policy Task Force.  For more information on how to volunteer, contact PRA directly