America’s mental health system will be evaluated by Congress on Tuesday during a hearing where legislators are expected to discuss Republican Rep. Tim Murphy’s bill, The Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act.
The bill is part of the Pennsylvania congressman’s efforts to reform mental health in the United States by refocusing federal dollars and resources while also altering aspects of HIPPA, or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, which ensures privacy to individual’s medical history.
“I hear judges sometimes say, ‘well it’s not against the law to be crazy.’ Well, it’s not against the law to have a heart attack but we do something about it,” Murphy said on CNN’s “New Day.”
Murphy is partnering with Virginia state Sen. Creigh Deeds, a Democrat whose family life was shattered by his son’s struggle with mental illness. In 2013, Deed’s son who had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and stabbed Deeds several times at their rural Virginia home before committing suicide.
“What I’m particularly attracted to in this law is it makes important changes to the HIPAA law that allows adult children to be cared for by the parents or family members that already care for them, gives them access to information that will allow them to provide better for their children,” Deeds said.
Murphy says some of these changes would include allowing doctors to provide an individual’s known caregiver information about the patient, such as what the patient’s diagnosis is, when their next appointment might be and what their treatment plan is.
The federal government annually devotes $130 billion to mental health according to the bill’s information page, Murphy said on New Day that the government should reallocate that money to provide more hospital beds, get more providers and additional research on mental health.
“People don’t have a right to kill themselves in front of you, and that’s essentially what the system now allows,” Deeds said.