- The House voted to pass H.R. 2646 Wednesday in a landslide 422-2 vote.
- The legislation attempts to reform U.S. mental healthcare; a related Senate bill has remained hung up over gun politics. The legislation got where it is today in part by dropping its more controversial measures and separating itself from gun issues.
- Patient privacy is among the matters addressed in the legislation, which would require HHS to issue new regulations to clarify how to handle privacy issues for those who suffer serious mental illness.
The hotbutton issue around clarifying HIPAA regulations didn't derail the bill because the final version pushed it off to HHS to seek comment and decide. The bill had previously included HIPAA changes that would have allowed providers to share information about mentally ill patients with their caregivers, but those changes were removed due to objections from both Democrats and some Republicans, reported The Hill.
The removal resulted in mixed reactions. The National Alliance on Mental Illness, which represents familes of the mentally ill, had wanted the HIPAA change.
“There are valuable things in there,” Andrew Sperling, the group's director of legislative advocacy, told The Wall Street Journal. “Is this a sea change? Probably not.”