Just one day after Senator Chris Murphy’s birthday, on Tuesday, August 4th, he and Bill Cassidy put out a press release about their new bill, the ‘Mental Health Reform Act of 2015.’ Also known by its recently assigned number, S. 1945, many are referring to the Bill as the second Murphy Bill. Although some seem to be touting it as a great ‘bipartisan’ effort that mostly focuses on continuing existing programs, a closer read reveals that it is just as bad as the House Murphy Bill in most respects and often near identical.
Like the House Murphy Bill:
- It loosens restrictions on HIPAA, esentially taking away rights from individuals with psychiatric diagnoses simply because they are so diagnosed
- It focuses on the concept of ‘evidence-based’ to the detriment of many of the most innovative and effective supports currently available and ignoring all the problems with the concept of ‘evidence-based’ itself
- It includes peer support and peer specialist roles in an effort to control and limit them, rather than support and expand them
- It continues support fo so-called ‘Assisted Outpatient Treatment’ (Forced outpatient Commitment!) programs, in spite of their being proven not to work and clearly violating the rights of people who are so forced
Overall, it demonstrates a complete lack of understanding and belief in the potential of people to be go through difficult experiences, be given psychiatric diagnoses, heal and go on with their lives. (For example, according to the bill, ‘peer specialists’ must have been in active treatment for the last two years, suggesting that there is no belief that someone with a psychiatric diagnosis may ever be doing well and not be in treatment.) It limits or eliminates many innovative supports that have not been able to achieve ‘evidence-based’ status, and feeds a country begging for change more and more of the exact same thing.
For more information:
- Check out these talking points from ‘Campaign for Real Change in Mental Health Policy’ (At least for the moment, the talking points focus more on the House Murphy Bill, but given the similarities, they’re still helpful!
- Listen to this special ‘Talk with Tenney’ radio show called, ‘Reading the Cassidy-Murphy Bill’
- Check out the Muphy Bill webinar slides from the Mental Health Association of Pennsylvania and check back on their website in the near future for a recording of their recent August 11 webinar!
- Read the Senate Murphy Bill yourself
- Check out this article for a few more suggestions!