Republican seeks to revive mental health bill

Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.) is attempting to unite mental health advocates around his plan to reshape the nation’s treatment and prevention systems, vowing to work with those who “are mired in the old ways.”

“We are so disjointed that we have become the Jerry Springer family,” Murphy said at an event hosted by the Treatment Advocacy Center. “We have to stop being self-serving here, folks, and start serving those in need.”


Murphy, who is trained as a child psychologist, said he plans to reintroduce his bill in the next few weeks “after we do some other polishing and tinkering on this.”

He said he believes the bill will reach the Senate, with Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) taking the lead with support from Sens. Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntRoy Blunt has helped forge and fortify the shared bonds between Australia and America The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Biden jumps into frenzied Dem spending talks Congress facing shutdown, debt crisis with no plan B MORE (R-Mo.), Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyCongress facing shutdown, debt crisis with no plan B Senators slow Biden with holds at Pentagon, State Tell our troops: 'Your sacrifice wasn't in vain' MORE (D-Conn.) and Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiGOP warns McConnell won't blink on debt cliff Graham tries to help Trump and McConnell bury the hatchet Trump, allies launch onslaught as midterms kick into gear MORE (R-Alaska).

The legislation, “Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act,” was authored in early 2013 in the wake of the deadly elementary school shooting in Newtown, Conn.

The bill would create new, strict guidelines for state governments, including a controversial provision that makes it easier to require people with severe mental illnesses to seek treatment and take medication.

Murphy slammed the billions of dollars spent by the federal government on mental health, which he said was based on a “take my word for it” accountability model.

“We are on something of a fool’s errand in doing this in a way that’s not done well.”

He also condemned the government’s main agency for mental illnesses, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSA). He compared its most recent budget request to the chaos in the 1978 comedy “Animal House.”

“It is an agency that doesn’t deserve to continue to be the same thing,” he said. “Their record’s a failure.”

Murphy’s bill had won support from Republican leadership in Congress, who painted the bill as the GOP’s solution to the nation’s intensifying mental health crisis. But the bill’s path forward came into question last session, after the House Energy and Commerce Committee decided to break it in pieces to improve its chances of passage.

Advocates say the nation is facing a crisis. As the nation’s healthcare system has shifted away from large mental institutions, many people with mental illnesses are faced with two options: jail or the emergency room.

Thirty-four states cut mental health spending between 2009 and 2011 — a total of $1.6 billion — at a time when the demand for mental health services surged across the country, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.