APA Commends House for Approving Mental Health Reform Bill
ARLINGTON, Va. Nov. 30, 2016 – The American Psychiatric Association (APA) praises the U.S. House of Representatives for voting today to approve the 21st Century Cures Act, sweeping legislation that includes numerous provisions to reform the nation’s mental health care system.
“This legislation will greatly benefit our patients with mental illness and substance use disorders,” said APA President Maria A. Oquendo, M.D., Ph.D. “The bill strengthens existing parity laws so that mental illness is treated just like any other illness and it better coordinates the efforts of federal agencies responsible for treating mental illness. This marks the passage of the first mental health reform bill in more than 50 years and is long overdue.”
The 21st Century Cures bill included provisions long championed by Reps. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.) and Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas) in the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act as well as provisions in the Mental Health Reform Act of 2016, sponsored by Sens. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.) The bill provisions include:
- Reauthorizing grants to support integrated care models so that mental health professionals can work more closely with primary care doctors.
- Reauthorizing grants for training programs, such as the APA Foundation’s Typical or Troubled? program, which trains school officials to identify students in need of mental health services.
- Requiring the Department of Health and Human Services to develop a plan to ensure enforcement of federal parity laws that mandate that insurers cover mental illness the same as any other ailment.
- Providing $1 billion in state grants to address the opioid epidemic.
“With the House passage, we urge the Senate to pass this important legislation before adjourning for the year,” said APA CEO and Medical Director Saul Levin, M.D., M.P.A. “Our mental health system needs to be retooled to meet the growing demands of our patients. There is not a moment to lose to help those who live with mental illness and to ensure quality and access of care equal to any other illness.”
The American Psychiatric Association is a national medical specialty society whose 36,500 physician members specialize in the diagnosis, treatment, prevention and research of mental illnesses, including substance use disorders.