Mental Health Bill, lawmakers tackle federal policies

Mr. Murphy, a clinical psychologist, had been tapped by House leaders to investigate mental health treatment in the U.S. in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting in 2012. He and other advocates of changing the system have cited the obstacles family members faced in caring for people with serious mental illness, including privacy laws and provider shortages. These issues were also highlighted in a Wall Street Journal investigative series in 2013.

In the years since, Mr. Murphy and other backers of the law have agreed to soften some portions of the legislation in an effort stave off opposition. The bill has a Democratic lead co-sponsor, Eddie Bernice Johnson of Texas, and was unanimously approved by the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Earlier iterations of the bill had sought to change the privacy rules in a law known as HIPAA so that providers could share details of a patient’s diagnosis, prescriptions and appointments with a known caregiver, require states to pass laws that compelled treatment for certain people as a condition of getting federal funding, and restrict advocacy groups that receive federal health funding from helping patients bring legal challenges to their treatment.

Read the article here.