House mental health bill gets long-awaited markup date
- The House Energy and Commerce Committee has scheduled a full committee markup session for June 15.
- The session includes Rep. Tim Murphy's (R-PA) controversial mental health bill (H.R. 2646).
- The subcommittee on health passed the measure last November.
The measure was first introduced in 2013 following the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting.
The bill would create an Assistant Secretary for Mental Helath and Substance Use Disorders as well as help clarify health privacy rules.
“Next week we’ll mark a critical milestone in the multi-year effort to begin to deliver meaningful bipartisan reforms for families in mental health crisis,” said Rep. Fred Uptom (R-MI) and Murphy in a prepared statement. “We are making great strides on achieving long sought reforms by removing barriers to care and transforming how SAMHSA grant dollars are spent. Our work continues next week, and we look forward to a big vote followed by consideration by the full House.”
A full list of bills, and electronic copies of the bills will be available on the Energy and Commerce Committee’s website here. A background memo, amendments, and votes will be available at the same link as they are posted.
There has been concern from Democrats that the measure is geared more towards reactive versus proactive, preventative care of mental health efforts. In addition, HIPAA changes to allow caregivers and family members to get health information on an individual's mental health issues had been a cause for concern.
To gain more bipartisan support, amendments to the bill were made. Last November, the updated version clarified federal funds will not be rescinded in states that do not have assisted outpatient treatment laws, but rather states that do have the laws will receive a 2% increase in funding.
And changes have continued to be made. Murphy has been working for months with the Energy and Commerce Committee to see the measure though, The Hill reported. The new draft legislation omits the HIPAA changes on third parties acquiring health information for individuals with mental health issues. Thus, HHS will be left responsible to deal with HIPAA concerns on such matters.
“Overall, the bill is a good starting point as we work to improve the full spectrum of mental healthcare in America,' a committee Democratic spokesman was quoted in The Hill. "In the coming days, Democrats will continue to work with Republicans and mental health care advocates to ensure that the final bill is as meaningful as possible.”
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