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.

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Murphy Press | Congressman Tim Murphy (PA-18)
2332 Rayburn House Office Building | Washington, DC  20515
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Tampa Tribune: HR 2646 ‘Good For The Country’

Ed Board Urges: “Confront Our Mental Health Crisis” Following Shooting in Colorado Springs  

For Immediate Release: December 1, 2015
Contact: Murphy Press 202.225.2301
(Washington, D.C.) –The Tampa Tribune calls on Congress to reach across party lines and advance Congressman Tim Murphy’s landmark Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act, H.R. 2646, in an editorial board endorsement published today. The editors write how the crisis mental health legislation will increase funding for brain research, promote tele-psychiatry and increase the number of psychiatric beds by modifying the antiquated “Institutions For Mental Diseases” exclusion in Medicaid, allowing for more patients to receive mental health treatment before a tragedy occurs.  

Editorial: Confront Our Mental Health Crisis 
Editorial Board
December 1, 2015
President Obama obviously is going to push another futile effort to enact stronger gun laws in the aftermath of last week’s shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs. His time would be better spent working with Congress on mental health legislation, where progress could be made.
But that won’t happen if Obama’s initial reaction is any indication. He immediately focused on guns after the shooting that killed three people, including a police officer: “We can’t let it become normal. If we truly care about this — if we’re going to offer up our thoughts and prayers again, for God knows how many times, with a truly clean conscience — then we have to do something about the easy accessibility of weapons of war on our streets to people who have no business wielding them. Period. Enough is enough.”
Some revised regulations may be justified, but new gun laws are not going to get anywhere with the country divided over their necessity and the Republican Congress opposed to them. 
In contrast, consensus might be reached on a critical issue related to mass shootings: mental health.
Yet Obama and the Democrats, so far, have not rallied to adopt the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act proposed by Rep. Tom Murphy, a Pennsylvania Republican.
In many of the nation’s mass shootings, the killers were mentally deranged. There are few cases of average citizens suddenly going on a rampage because they have access to guns.
The suspect in the Colorado shooting is a case in point. He was an eccentric loner who babbled incoherently about government plots.
Murphy, who visited the Tribune editorial board last year with U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis to talk about the bill, told us he began studying the nation’s flawed mental health system after Adam Lanza gunned down 20 first-graders and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012. Lanza was mentally ill but refused to take his medication.
Mental illness was a factor in the shootings at the Aurora movie theater; Virginia Tech; the Tucson shooting that severely wounded former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords; Columbine and many others.
The proposal by Murphy, a psychologist, would lift a 16-bed cap in cases where Medicaid funds the care. It would promote “tele-psychiatry” to connect pediatricians and other physicians with mental health professionals in areas where patients have no or limited access to such care. It would increase brain research funding.
The legislation would encourage, with increased grants, states to adopt standards to allow for the involuntary commitment of the mentally ill who are a threat to others.
Murphy also would reform the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, bringing more accountability and seeking to ensure tax dollars were spent on effective therapies.
Improved mental health care won’t eliminate the threat of mass shootings. Racism, religious prejudice and religious zealotry, domestic violence, political extremism and many other factors contribute to the violence. But providing treatment for those with serious mental issues would undoubtedly prevent at least some individuals from reaching a murderous breaking point.
And as Murphy points out, improving mental health treatment also would reduce the rates of suicide, crime and homelessness.
Washington’s partisan divide shouldn’t stop members of both parties from seeing that the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act would be good for the country.
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BREAKING: HR 2646 Moves To Top of House Agenda


For Immediate Release: December 2, 2015
Contact: Murphy Press 202.225.2301
(Washington, D.C.) – Congressman Tim Murphy’s (R-PA) landmark crisis mental health legislation, The Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act, continues to make headlines across the country this week as Speaker Paul D. Ryan voiced his support for H.R. 2646 as a necessary piece of legislation needed to fix our broken mental health system. 
Ryan Calls for Mental-Health Overhaul After Planned Parenthood Shooting 
The Wall Street Journal
December 1, 2015
Mr. Ryan pointed to legislation from Rep. Tim Murphy (R., Pa.) that would increase the number of inpatient psychiatric beds in the U.S., expand the mental-health workforce and authorize an early-intervention program, among other things. The House Energy and Commerce Committee is expected to consider the bill soon. Mr. Murphy said his bill would enable those with mental illness to receive treatment sooner, making them less likely to become engaged in violent acts. – Kristina Peterson, Wall Street Journal
Paul Ryan Pushes Changes in Mental Health Care After Colorado Shooting New York Times 
December 1, 2015
 
Representative Tim Murphy, the Pennsylvania Republican who is a clinical psychologist and who introduced the bill, spent a year conducting research on the system after the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. He carried out that study at the request of House Republican leaders; his bill is under consideration by the House Energy and Commerce Committee. – Emmarie Huetteman and Richard Perez-Pena 
Ryan’s nod could get mental health legislation moving Washington Post  
December 1, 2015
“Clearly we can do more, and one common denominator in these tragedies is mental illness, and that is why we need to look at fixing our nation’s mental illness health system,” Ryan said, pointing to a reform bill authored by Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.) now awaiting final action in the Energy and Commerce Committee. “I’m sure that members of both parties have lots of ideas in this area, but we should make this a priority to prevent the violence and to protect our citizens.” – Mike DeBonis, Washington Post
GOP focuses on mental health after Colo. Shooting USA Today 
December 1, 2015
Mental illness causes tens of thousands of death a year through suicide, drug overdoses, and a range of ailments that afflict homeless people with mental illness, Murphy told USA TODAY Tuesday. "For the longest time these people and these families lived in that shadows and Congress like the rest of the country ignored them," Murphy said. The need to change the mental health system "is not about the shootings," Murphy said, "but if that's what gets people's attention, gets them to wake up, maybe (the victims) will not have died in vain." Murphy was a psychologist before being elected to Congress and is co-chair of its Mental Health Caucus.– Paul Singer, USA Today
Paul Ryan: 'Clearly we can do more' to address mental health issuesCNN.com 
December 1, 2015
The Speaker pointed to legislation crafted by Pennsylvania GOP Rep. Tim Murphy, a clinical psychologist, that overhauls the mental health system and aims to get treatment earlier to those who could pose a danger to others. Murphy's bill is currently being considered by the House Energy and Commerce Committee, but some House GOP members want additional changes made to it before the House votes on it. The number two House Democrat, Rep Steny Hoyer of Maryland, agreed that focusing on mental health was an appropriate response to what happened in Colorado, but added there were concerns about "privacy rights" in the Murphy bill and said Republicans should work on a bipartisan proposal. –  Deirdre Walsh, CNN.com
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