"NAMI is thrilled that Congress has taken the first crucial step in moving forward comprehensive, bipartisan mental health legislation," NAMI Executive Director Mary Giliberti said. "The extensive discussion and action on a bill focused on the needs of our members and others who are affected by mental illness represented an historic moment."
Giliberti said the measure, known as the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act, or HR 2546, addresses many issues NAMI has been working on, including innovation and evidence-based practices in mental health care; protecting access to psychiatric medications in Medicaid and Medicare; loosening restrictions on federal Medicaid reimbursement for short term, acute inpatient psychiatric treatment for adults; increasing eligibility for funding in Medicaid and Medicare for implementing health information technology in mental health care; and striking a balance between privacy for mental health patients and giving their families access to information necessary for more effective support.
The bill would also increase funding for specific kinds of research on serious mental illness at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).
Giliberti said she and the NAMI team were looking forward to working with the subcommittee, and expressed special thanks to U.S. Reps. Tim Murphy (R-PA) and Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) for "their leadership and strong commitment to improving care for Americans living with mental illness.
"This historic step responds to the nation's mental health crisis and seeks to build a modern mental health care system oriented toward early identification of symptoms, effective treatment and sustained recovery," Giliberti said. "There is still much work to be done."
The measure now moves on to the full committee. The Senate is working on similar legislation.