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Mental Health Reform Act of 2015

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at August 6, 2015

U.S. Representatives Tim Murphy (R-Pa.) and Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas), had previously proposed the “Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act,” earlier in the year, in an effort to address the significant lack of funding for our nations mental health care.

Now, there appears to be a counterpart in the U.S. Senate, which means there is much more traction on this issue.

This past week (8/4/2015), a bipartisan pair of U.S. Senators introduced its own version of the “Mental Health Reform Act of 2015” which is intended to “expand access to care, enforce parity, and increase the mental health workforce.”

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 bill takes a multi-faceted approach to improving the mental health care system, including:

  • A grant program focused on early intervention for children who display risk factors related to mental illness
  • A new Serious Mental Illness (SMI) Coordinating Committee that will document and promote research and treatment related to SMI
  • Strengthening mental health services within Medicaid/Medicare

Not included in the bill, as far as we can tell, is funding for research relating to Substance Use Disorder, which continues to be “carved out” from meaningful overall behavioral/mental health reform.

Still, the nation is heading in the right direction, albeit as the result of mass school and movie theater shootings, rather than to simply “do the right thing.”

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