From our good Senator Peter DeFazio
Thank you for contacting me with your support for H.R. 2646, the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act. I appreciate hearing from you. You will be pleased to know that I am a cosponsor of this legislation.
As you may know, H.R. 2646 was created to fix our broken mental health care system by increasing funding and support for patients and families in need of mental health services. This legislation would implement a complete overhaul of our national mental health system, starting with the creation of an Assistant Secretary for Mental Health position within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) . The Assistant Secretary would be responsible and accountable for all HHS mental health programs and policies and would be required to report to Congress on findings. H.R. 2646 would also expand Medicaid to cover psychiatric hospital services for adults and giv e necessary power to families to be front-line caregivers .
Additionally, this legislation provides support for advances in behavioral health clinics, medical research on mental health, and tele-psychiatry access. H.R. 2646 would also require emphasiz ing treating mental health patients in the healthcare system and not in jail, providing necessary criminal justice reforms.
As a member of the Mental Health Caucus I have consistently fought for increased access to mental health services and increased funding for mental health research. I was a strong supporter of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, which prohibits insurance companies from discriminating against Americans who need mental health treatment. I have also supported efforts to ensure psychologists and other mental health providers have access to federal incentives to adopt electronic health records and are able to bill Medicare for services that they are legally authorized to perform without physician supervision requirements.
We cannot afford to ignore mental illness and the tragedies that may ensue if it is left untreated. H.R. 2646 would initiate the major reforms needed to fix our failing mental health system. You can be sure I will continue to work with the Mental Health Caucus and the rest of my colleagues to ensure that mental health services are available to any and every American who needs them.
Thanks again for writing. Please continue to keep in touch.
U.S. REPRESENTATIVE PETER DeFAZIO
Fourth Congressional District, Orego