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Is Fred Upton Caving on the Mental-Illness Bill?


The Hill is reporting that Fred Upton (R., Mich.), chairman of House Energy and Commerce Committee, is stripping out key provisions of a bill cosponsored by Representative Murphy (R., Pa.), along with dozens of Republicans and Democrats. The provisions in question are specifically aimed to help the seriously mentally ill.

The Hill describes Upton’s move as a “serious blow” to Murphy’s efforts, and writes:

Taking cues from public safety advocates and families of people with serious mental illness, Murphy’s bill proposed to loosen standards for involuntary treatment, increase psychiatric beds and relax health privacy laws to give caregivers more information. 

Passing the remaining watered-down provisions would allow Congress to say it has “done something” while in fact doing nothing to provide meaningful reform. If Upton agrees to the concession, he’ll be putting the wishes of SAMHSA-funded mental-health communities — they want funding to serve the high-functioning population, a group that is far larger than the seriously ill and that therefore brings in more money to providers — ahead of the needs of the seriously ill, who are the very people most at risk, to themselves and others. How many more Elliot Rodgers do we have to see before lawmakers take long-overdue steps on reform?

D. J. Jaffe analyzed Murphy’s bill in a recent NRO article, and he provides a comparison of Murphy’s bill with the competing Democratic bill here.


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