Democratic members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee introduced their own version of mental health reform legislation this week. The bill, which spans nearly 300 pages, touches on many parts of the US mental health system. The bill’s authors said in a statement that their legislation is not meant to compete with Rep. Tim Murphy’s Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act (H.R. 2646); instead they said it is intended to push the conversation forward toward compromise and passage.
“It is our shared goal that this legislation advances a larger discussion in Congress and serves as a platform for comprehensive mental health reform,” said co-author of the bill, Congresswoman Doris Matsui (D-CA). “We have worked tirelessly to find compromises that outline a path to reform that provides resources for prevention, as well as crisis care, so that patients have the support they need at whatever stage they are in their illness. I’m particularly pleased that this package contains provisions that I have long advocated for, from clarifying what can and cannot be shared under HIPAA law, to expanding the Excellence in Mental Health demonstration to ensure that more states have an opportunity to benefit from high quality, evidenced-based, and community-driven mental health care.”
Of particular importance to community behavioral health providers, the bill:
The bill also repeals the 190-day lifetime limit on Medicare psychiatric inpatient treatment; codifies recent guidance permitting managed care companies to provide residential treatment in lieu of other, more intensive services; and strengthens parity enforcement by imposing new disclosure, reporting, and auditing requirements. For a full section-by-section summary of the bill, click here.
Authors of this bill include: Representatives Diana DeGette (D-CO), Gene Green (D-TX), Doris Matsui (D-CA), Paul Tonko (D-NY), David Loebsack (D-IA), and Joseph Kennedy (D-MA).
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