Health and Fitness

Representative Jan Schakowsky Statement on Mental Health Care Bill

WASHINGTON, D.C. –(ENEWSPF)–June 16, 2016.  Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (IL-09) released the following statement after the Mental Health Care bill (H.R. 2646) was passed unanimously out of the full Energy and Commerce Committee:

“After decades of neglect and underinvestment, it is critical that we fundamentally reform our mental health system.  Unfortunately, while the bill we passed today is an important step forward, it falls short of the goal of comprehensive reform.

There is much to be proud of in the version of H.R. 2646 passed the by House Energy and Commerce Committee today.  This bill will fund Assertive Community Treatment, which allows providers to work together to help people with serious mental illness and help them stay in the community.  It will eliminate an outdated, discriminatory barrier in Medicaid law that prevents children in inpatient psychiatric care from receiving physical health care services at the same time.  Finally, this bill reauthorizes the critically important Garrett Lee Smith suicide prevention program and funds additional suicide prevention programs.

However, it provides significantly fewer resources than what is needed to truly increase access to mental health services.  H.R. 2646 also does not include my legislation, H.R. 4374, the Mental Health on Campus Improvement Act, which would provide new resources for college campuses to expand their mental health services.  We know that far too often, the mental health needs of college students are left unaddressed and that campuses across the country struggle to meet the mental health needs of their students.  In addition, H.R. 2646 does little to expand our behavioral health workforce, which is in dire need of investment.  Finally, it does not go far enough in ensuring accountability in private insurance for mental health parity.

This was an opportunity for Republicans to work with us in a bi-partisan way to comprehensively reform our mental health system.  Unfortunately, this bill misses the opportunity we had to meet that goal.  While I supported H.R. 2646, I want to be clear that this bill is not the end of the road.  This bill is a step forward, but there is still much work to be done if we truly want to say that we’ve reformed our mental health system.”