Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Comprehensive Mental Health Reform Legislation Introduced in Senate

A bipartisan pair of U.S. senators today introduced the Mental Health Reform Act of 2015, intended to expand access to care, enforce parity, and increase the mental health workforce.

“This bill gives hope to patients, to families, and to our society and redirects [patients] down a path that ends in wholeness,” said Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La., at right in photo), a gastroenterologist, at a press conference at the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center.

The bill seeks to build inpatient and outpatient capacity, increase the number of providers, invest in research and dissemination of best practices, and better coordinate physical and mental health care, added his cosponsor, Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn., left).

“The nation’s mental health system needs reform and investment, and we applaud Senators Murphy and Cassidy for this comprehensive reform initiative,” said APA CEO and Medical Director Saul Levin, M.D., M.P.A. (center), at the press conference. “We will work with legislators on both sides of the aisle to accomplish mental health reform.”

Levin noted that APA is pleased to see that many of the important provisions in the bill previously introduced in the House by Reps. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.) and Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas), the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act, are included in this proposed Senate legislation.

“We are proud to be working with our colleagues in the House,” said Sen. Murphy. “These two bills represent the best chance of getting behavioral health legislation passed.”

 “We are encouraged by the fact that lawmakers in the House and the Senate have filed comprehensive mental health reform legislation,” said APA President RenĂ©e Binder, M.D.

For more in Psychiatric News on mental health legislation, see "House Health Subcommittee Opens Discussion on Mental Health Bill."

(Image: Aaron Levin)


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