Mental health pushed in Congress before Newtown anniversary
December 12th, 2013
12:17 PM ET
9 months ago

Mental health pushed in Congress before Newtown anniversary

(CNN) – Just days before the first anniversary of the Newtown, Connecticut, elementary school massacre, a Republican congressman from Pennsylvania introduced new legislation Thursday that seeks to improve the mental health system.

Rep. Tim Murphy, who spent three decades as a psychologist before coming to Capitol Hill, said little has been done in the past year to "get those who need help the help they need," despite tragedies like the one at Sandy Hook and countless others that get less attention.

"The past few decades, this nation has moved forward in knowledge of what it takes to help, but has moved backwards in getting that help done," he said at a press conference on Capitol Hill. "And where there is no help, there is no hope."

Murphy isn't the only Congressman holding a mental health related event Thursday. Rep. Ron Barber, D-Arizona, will host his second session on recognizing signs of mental illness.

Barber, who was shot in the Tucson mass shooting that severely wounded former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, has also introduced legislation that focuses on raising awareness about mental health symptoms and services.

As for Murphy, his bill attempts to clarify federal privacy rules so that mental health professionals can better communicate with their patients' parents or guardians.

It also calls for more psychiatric beds and in-patient and out-patient services for those covered by Medicaid and fall between the ages of 22 and 64. As of now, many mental health services covered by Medicaid–the largest insurance provider for behavior health services–are limited only to those under 21, while studies show mental health disorders mostly manifest between the ages of 14 and 25.

The bill also advocates for tele-psychiatry, a practice that allows individuals who live in rural areas better access to psychologists and psychiatrists

In addition, the legislation would create an administration position called the assistant secretary for mental health and substance use disorders in the Health and Human Services Department.

It also tries to combat Medicaid and Medicare policies that permit only one prescription drug per therapeutic class, meaning physicians can't prescribe all the medications they could for certain illnesses.

Furthermore, Murphy wants to authorize the BRAIN research initiative, which has been advocated by President Barack Obama and calls for investments in mental illness research.

Mental health legislation has proved to be a potentially viable path in the movement to combat gun violence. While an overall gun control package in the Senate fell short of the number of votes it needed to proceed earlier this year, one of its amendments-which sought to boost mental health services-received overwhelming support.

Senators who sponsored the amendment have said they'd like to introduce the measure as a stand-alone bill.


Filed under: Congress • House • Mental Health
soundoff (23 Responses)
  1. Donna

    Even mentally ill people still have rights in this country. All of the laws constrain people from taking action or even trying to take action. It may take a while and be expensive. So what happens is that these mentally ill people are dealt with once their mental illness crosses them over into a criminal, many times violent, act.

    December 12, 2013 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  2. Rick McDaniel

    Well.........that took LONG enough, now didn't it? Doing the right thing, doesn't come easily, in America.

    December 12, 2013 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  3. simplyput

    Tele-psychiatry? Now there's an idea whose time has come..the NSA can just listen in, decide you're nuts, and find a bed for the afflicted all in the name of The Homeland! Did you know the SS in Germany before WWII went after the mentally ill before the Jews?

    December 12, 2013 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  4. Malory Archer

    Donna

    Even mentally ill people still have rights in this country. All of the laws constrain people from taking action or even trying to take action. It may take a while and be expensive. So what happens is that these mentally ill people are dealt with once their mental illness crosses them over into a criminal, many times violent, act.

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    You can thank your hero raygun and his Mental Health patients bill of rights for that. Ironically, the laws he enacted nearly cost him his life.

    December 12, 2013 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  5. Gurgyl

    Persons of non compos mentis are exception to the laws. I think USA needs to put price tags for every hospital test, and doctor fee. Only way out.

    December 12, 2013 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  6. Our Future

    The only solution is for the federal governemnt to establish Sanity Determination Boards across the country. Every single US citizen must appear before them every three years to convince them that they are indeed sane and not a threat to others in the colllective, yourself or the state. If you fail to convince them, or are not a person that supports left wing solutions in this country, you will be immediately enrolled in the new Safe Insanity Program and brought to large gulags in the remote parts of the country. It works very well in North Korea so why not here?

    December 12, 2013 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  7. Rudy NYC

    "... ... ... a Republican congressman from Pennsylvania introduced new legislation Thursday that seeks to improve the mental health system. "
    ------------------------–
    Ladies and gentleman, this is a textbook example of right wing fraud, and how Republicans mislead the public into thinking that they are actually doing something to benefit The People. This mental health bill is just as fraudulent as the childhood cancer bill they talked about yesterday.

    Republicans had cut $500 million from cancer research, and then patted themselves on the back for coming up with a bill that proposes several million for research into childhood cancer and medications for them. Republicans cut more hundreds of millions from the NIH, National Institute of Health, which dealt with the same mental health issues that this bill with a yet to named price tag is supposed to do.

    Republicans are not giving something away. They're just giving back an insignificant portion of it all. And, they did it only because people were saying bad things about them, and so they wanted to offer up a token gesture to make amends in their own eyes. They're all frauds, and they know it.

    December 12, 2013 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  8. Donna

    Malory Archer
    Donna
    Even mentally ill people still have rights in this country. All of the laws constrain people from taking action or even trying to take action. It may take a while and be expensive. So what happens is that these mentally ill people are dealt with once their mental illness crosses them over into a criminal, many times violent, act.
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    You can thank your hero raygun and his Mental Health patients bill of rights for that. Ironically, the laws he enacted nearly cost him his life.
    ---

    So you support the government trampling of the rights of mentally ill American citizens? You support their wholesale internment without due process?

    December 12, 2013 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  9. Thomas

    So I guess it took this long for the GOP to undo the damage Ronald Reagan did to our mental health system.

    The republicans are slow learners .

    December 12, 2013 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  10. just asking

    Rudy NYC
    "... ... ... a Republican congressman from Pennsylvania introduced new legislation Thursday that seeks to improve the mental health system. "
    --------–
    Ladies and gentleman, this is a textbook example of right wing fraud, and how Republicans mislead the public into thinking that they are actually doing something to benefit The People. This mental health bill is just as fraudulent as the childhood cancer bill they talked about yesterday.
    ---

    right.... as opposed to lthe massive l eft wing fraud that we can keep ou healthcare plan, keep our doctor, keep our hospital and save $2500 a year when it turns out absolutely none of it was true. total fabrication , lies to get people to go along with a massive fraud.

    December 12, 2013 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  11. truth hurts but reality bites

    Thomas
    So I guess it took this long for the GOP to undo the damage Ronald Reagan did to our mental health system.
    -–

    Democrats controlled the House of Representatives the entire time Reagan was President. They also controlled the Senate in the last two years. Anything done during the Reagan administration had the cooperation and approval of the Democrats as well.

    Please, enough of the lies.

    December 12, 2013 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  12. Hector Slagg

    Mental Health,
    No doubt a lot of Liberal's need a lesson in Mental Health. Reminds me of Aesop's Fable of the Mice needing to put the Bell on the Cat. All agreed it needed to be don but alas, who would do it. Lessee. the latest Big Liberal Idea is income Equality. Yes, we need more of that. And Health Care, and Food Stamps, and Mortgage Relief. Extended Unemployment Benefits. You don't have to be crazy to be a liberal but it helps.

    December 12, 2013 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  13. Malory Archer

    Rick McDaniel

    Well.........that took LONG enough, now didn't it? Doing the right thing, doesn't come easily, in America.

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Yeah, because doing so meant admitting that your hero raygun's policies have proven to be an abject failure. Glad to see your ilk finally coming around.

    December 12, 2013 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  14. Malory Archer

    Donna

    So you support the government trampling of the rights of mentally ill American citizens? You support their wholesale internment without due process?

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Wow, your ilk gets angry when confronted with the truth. Sorry babe, but just like every other American, a mentally ill individual's rights end where they infringe upon the rights of others – and that includes the right to not be accosted, assaulted or killed by someone who didn't want to take their meds, or who checked themself out of a mental health treatment facility against the recommendation of their doctor.

    December 12, 2013 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  15. ThinkAgain

    @Thomas: "So I guess it took this long for the GOP to undo the damage Ronald Reagan did to our mental health system.
    The republicans are slow learners ."

    Thank you for your post – too many people forget how Reagan cut funding to states, forcing them to close mental facilities and turn many mentally ill out onto the street. But, hey, all the repubs say "Praise Jesus!" on a regular basis, so it's all cool ... right?

    December 12, 2013 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  16. smith

    Normal people blame Adam Lanza(mentally ill) for Sandy Hook. Liberals blame gop, gun owners, gun manufacturers, nra, etc., but not Adam Lanza(mentally ill). Now, we have a common sense approach and they don`t like that either.smh

    December 12, 2013 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  17. Rudy NYC

    Donna wrote:

    So you support the government trampling of the rights of mentally ill American citizens? You support their wholesale internment without due process?
    -----------------------------
    What would you call holding someone without bail after they have been arrested for a serious crime?

    December 12, 2013 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  18. Donna

    Malory Archer
    Donna
    So you support the government trampling of the rights of mentally ill American citizens? You support their wholesale internment without due process?
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    Wow, your ilk gets angry when confronted with the truth. Sorry babe, but just like every other American, a mentally ill individual's rights end where they infringe upon the rights of others – and that includes the right to not be accosted, assaulted or killed by someone who didn't want to take their meds, or who checked themself out of a mental health treatment facility against the recommendation of their doctor.
    -–

    Angry? Nice try sweetie. I asked two simple questions. So you DO support the government moving against mentally ill people before they have commiitted any sort of crime?

    BTW, you can be accosted by people that are not mentally ill. And all mentally ill people are not violent. Your arguements hold no water.

    So you would have doctors deciding who should be interned in mental hospitals, simply for not taking medicine, or for violating doctors orders. And just how would this be enforced? The newly formed Mental Health Police Dept.?

    Please do expand on your thoughts about control and incarceration of the mentally ill.

    December 12, 2013 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  19. Rudy NYC

    just asking wrote:

    right.... as opposed to lthe massive l eft wing fraud that we can keep ou healthcare plan, keep our doctor, keep our hospital and save $2500 a year when it turns out absolutely none of it was true. total fabrication , lies to get people to go along with a massive fraud.
    ------------------------
    So, let's repeal the ACA so that we can guarantee that everyone, not just some, will lose their health care plan, just like back in the old days before the ACA. Let's go back towhen insurers did whatever they wanted in the name of higher profits. If not going back to those days means that my current policy might change, then I'll take it.

    December 12, 2013 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  20. just asking

    ThinkAgain
    Thank you for your post – too many people forget how Reagan cut funding to states, forcing them to close mental facilities and turn many mentally ill out onto the street.
    --

    so what keeps the states from taxing their citizens to provide these facilities? is doesn't need to be federally funded. so i guess all of the blue states have large mental health systems with large numbers of facilities where all of the dangerous mentally ill are kept?

    December 12, 2013 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  21. Donna

    Rudy NYC
    Donna wrote:
    So you support the government trampling of the rights of mentally ill American citizens? You support their wholesale internment without due process?
    ---------–
    What would you call holding someone without bail after they have been arrested for a serious crime?
    --–

    So you are now comparing the holding of a criminal suspect without bail (very unusual and only done when the proof is very certain) with the holding and detention of POTENTIALLY dangerous mentally ill people? Totally ludicrous.

    So who will be the mind reader and predicter of the future that will make this determination? A panel of government approved doctors that can override the Constitutional rights of an American citizen because they THINK he MIGHT do something bad?

    December 12, 2013 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  22. Rudy NYC

    just asking wrote:

    so what keeps the states from taxing their citizens to provide these facilities? .... ....
    --------------------------–
    Usually, it's Republicans that stop it. You just proposed a tax increase to pay for an expansion of government services.

    December 12, 2013 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  23. Fair is Fair

    Malory Archer

    Sorry babe, but just like every other American, a mentally ill individual's rights end where they infringe upon the rights of others – and that includes the right to not be accosted, assaulted or killed by someone who didn't want to take their meds, or who checked themself out of a mental health treatment facility against the recommendation of their doctor.
    --------–
    I see... so who determines who gets the frontal lobotomy and who gets the straightjacket? Yours is a pretty sick comment. It's a good thing you're such a compassionate liberal, otherwise I'd hate to see what you'd suggest.

    December 12, 2013 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |