DAILY / MAY 4, 2014, VOL. 4, NO. 19   Send Feedback l View Online
Psychiatric News Update
The Voice of the American Psychiatric Association and the Psychiatric Community
twitter facebook facebook
2014 APA's Annual Meeting Special Edition

Murphy Discusses 'Helping Families' Legislation at APA Assembly

Tim Murphy (R-Penn.)Patients with serious mental illness have a right to treatment and a right to get better. That’s what Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.) said in an address this morning to the APA Assembly, in which he discussed the bill he is sponsoring in Congress titled the “Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act” (HR 3717).

The congressman received a standing ovation following an impassioned talk in which he discussed the need to fix this country's broken mental health system. Prior to his address, Assembly members viewed a brief video of Murphy grilling an official with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services about the administration’s proposal earlier this year to eliminate antidepressants and antipsychotics from the Medicare Part D prescription drug program’s six protected classes of clinical concern. That proposal was rescinded after vigorous protests from Murphy, APA, and other medical and mental health organizations (psychiatric news, March 6, 2014).

A licensed clinical psychologist, Murphy described his own experience working as a volunteer at Walter Reed Medical Center with veterans with PTSD. He also recounted case examples from his home state of Pennsylvania of individuals with serious mental illness, unable to access treatment, who later killed themselves or others.

In January 2013, not long after the Newtown, Conn., shooting, the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations (of which Murphy is chair) launched a top-to-bottom review of the country’s mental health system. The investigation revealed that the approach by the federal government to mental health is a chaotic patchwork of antiquated programs and ineffective policies across numerous agencies.

In response, Murphy wrote the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act. The bill would do the following:

• Create an office of the Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders within the Department of Health and Human Services to coordinate federal government programs and ensure that recipients of the community mental health services block grant apply evidence-based models of care developed by the National Institute of Mental Health. The Assistant Secretary will ensure federal programs are optimized for patient care rather than bureaucracy.

• Reauthorize mental health courts and requires the Department of Justice to collect more data on interactions between the police and people with mental illness. The bill also authorizes grants to be used for mental health training of law enforcement and corrections officers.

• Apply rigorous quality standards for a new class of Federally Qualified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (FQCBHC), requiring them to provide a range of mental health and primary care services.

• Advance telepsychiatry to link pediatricians and primary care physicians with psychiatrists and psychologists in areas where patients do not have access to mental health professionals using a model based on a successful state project in Massachusetts.

• Promote alternatives to long-term inpatient care including court-ordered assisted outpatient treatment (AOT). AOT allows the court to direct treatment in the community for the hardest-to-treat patients—the less than 1 percent of people with serious mental illness—who have a history of arrest, repeat hospitalizations, and violence because of their illness.

“Unless we want to keep going to funerals, helping people in and out of jails,...I think it’s time we give these [patients with severe mental illness] the chance to get better,” Murphy told Assembly members. “They have a right to get better.”

For more information about the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act, click here.




 subscribe to blog rss

>>subscribe to blog via email

Copyright © 2014 American Psychiatric Association. All rights reserved.