On July 6, the House passed the "Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act" (H.R. 2646). The bill passed overwhelmingly, with a vote of 422-2. The bill has a long history, having first been introduced three years ago. It has undergone significant revision in that time, and contains multiple provisions related to mental health services. On his website, the bill's sponsor, Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA), said, "The federal government’s approach to mental health has been a chaotic patchwork of antiquated programs and ineffective policies across numerous agencies. Sadly, patients end up in the criminal justice system or on the streets because services are not available. The Helping Families In Mental Health Crisis Act fixes the nation’s broken mental health system by focusing programs and resources on psychiatric care for patients & families most in need of services."
The bill has moved to the Senate for consideration, but the upper chamber is currently working on its own mental health bill, the "Mental Health Reform Act of 2016" (S. 2680), which differs significantly from the House legislation. We will continue to monitor both bills and report back on any developments.