Thursday, December 3, 2015

WSJ Urges Congress To Advance Murphy's HR 2646

Editorial Board publishes 

"The Next Mad Gunman"

For Immediate Release: November 30, 2015
Contact: Murphy Press 202.225.2301
(Washington, D.C.) – The Wall Street Journal editorial board today published a piecehighlighting Congressman Tim Murphy’s Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act, H.R. 2646, crisis mental health legislation that requires SAMHSA to focus on evidence-based care and fixes HIPAA to allow medical professionals and family members to share critical information regarding their loved ones’ mental health treatment. 
The Next Mad GunmanEditorial Board
Wall Street Journal
November 29, 2015, 6:15pm

If the reaction to Friday’s mass shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs follows the Washington script, it will go something like this: Amid the public mourning will come the fights over gun control, and then nothing. Congress can change that cycle of intellectual poverty by shaking up federal mental-health policy.
A law enforcement official says the suspect, 57-year-old Robert Lewis Dear, made a remark about “no more baby parts” after his arrest, which suggests an anti-abortion motivation for the shooting. But even the initial reporting on Mr. Dear’s life shows that he is a longtime malcontent who believed the government was out to get him. We may find he suffered from paranoid delusions—that is, mental illness.
As it happens, this month a House subcommittee passed one of the more consequential bills of this Republican majority—the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act. Recent mass killers have nearly all had some kind of mental illness, yet few received proper treatment. One reason is a national mental-health system that has been ruined by 50 years of bad policy and oversight, and that fails to identify and help the severely ill. Representative Tim Murphy (R., Pa.) spent more than a year investigating the dysfunction and writing an overhaul.
Mr. Murphy’s problem now is politics. Democrats once seemed interested in a bipartisan bill, but of late the left has decided that mental illness is a diversion from its gun-control agenda. President Obama set the tone after the recent shooting in Roseburg, Oregon, claiming that the “majority” of these shooters are “angry, young men” with access to an “arsenal.” Plaintiffs lawyers and the anti-psychiatry movement have mobilized against Mr. Murphy’s reform.
The opposition comes despite Mr. Murphy’s efforts at compromise. His original bill denied federal funds to the slightly less than half of the states that lack “need for treatment” standards in their involuntary commitment laws, which give family and doctors more ability to assist the seriously ill. It would also have denied money to five states that don’t have assisted-outpatient treatment laws, which let courts require the mentally ill to receive treatment as a condition of remaining in a community.
Mr. Murphy has since modified the bill to give states an incentive to make these changes by offering more grant money to those that do. But a liberal phalanx led by New Jersey’s Frank Pallone is resisting any effort to require treatment for the dangerously ill, preferring to let those in the middle of psychotic episodes decide their own (non)care.
Democrats also misrepresent the bill to claim it eviscerates privacy protections. The reform does change federal rules to allow medical professionals and family members to share more information, though very narrowly. The changes would only apply to people diagnosed with a handful of severe illnesses—like schizophrenia. Even then it limits the sharing to basic “medical” information—the diagnosis, medications, a treatment plan. Psychiatrists are still barred from sharing “therapy notes” in which patients talk about how they feel. Democrats here are aiding the trial-lawyer lobby, which loves filing privacy lawsuits.
Liberals also object that Mr. Murphy would overhaul and impose spending oversight on the wayward Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Samhsa blows $3.6 billion a year on “prevention” programs for the “worried well,” with such investments as anti-bullying coloring books and “anxiety” programs. It scorns medically driven care and is in thrall to an anti-psychiatry movement that opposes drug treatment in favor of patient “empowerment.”
Mr. Murphy’s bill requires Samhsa to focus on evidence-driven care, and Democrats are using this to claim that the bill will cut vital money for prevention and substance-abuse programs. The Murphy bill does attempt to steer more dollars toward the severely ill, but it still makes room for other priorities—so long as advocates can demonstrate effectiveness. Samhsa’s agenda is to keep the cash flowing without accountability.
Mr. Murphy’s bill has 162 co-sponsors, including 45 Democrats. California’s Anna Eshoo, Illinois’s Bobby Rush and Pennsylvania’s Mike Doyle support gun control but aren’t using that as an excuse to ignore the urgent need for mental-health reform. Oregon’s Kurt Schrader is the only Democrat on the subcommittee to put his constituents ahead of partisanship and vote for the Murphy reform.
These Democrats are way ahead of some Republicans, who object to involuntary commitment for the mentally ill, despite overwhelming evidence of the risks to society and the sick. GOP leaders have also failed to make this a priority. Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton has been reluctant to move the bill past Mr. Pallone, the ranking Democrat on his committee.
A disturbed loner like Mr. Dear might be untreatable by any medical system, but some future young man might be stoppable with proper mental treatment. Congress should do what it can to make this more likely.

###


Murphy Press | Congressman Tim Murphy (PA-18)
2332 Rayburn House Office Building | Washington, DC  20515
(202) 225-2301 | (202) 225-1844 (f)
Press List Sign Up 
Click here and sign up for Rep. Murphy’s Weekly E-News | 

No comments:

Post a Comment