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Congressman Gene Green

Representing the 29th District of Texas

House Energy & Commerce Committee Members Introduce Comprehensive Behavioral Health System Reform Bill

February 2, 2016
Press Release
To advance efforts on mental health and substance use disorder legislation, Committee Members outline Democratic priorities for reform

WASHINGTON – Today, Congressman Gene Green (D-TX), Ranking Member of the House Energy & Commerce Health Subcommittee, along with five members of the Committee, introduced the Comprehensive Behavioral Health Reform and Recovery Act of 2016.

The bill increases investments in services and resources across the entire spectrum of mental health care, reflecting policy priorities put forth by Democratic members during ongoing Health Subcommittee efforts this Congress. 

“It is long past time for Congress to craft policies for the behavioral health system that parallel our approach to physical illnesses – policies that address prevention as well as crisis care,” said the bill’s authors. “Any efforts at mental health care reform must transform our system from the ground up, and this legislation provides a pivotal foundation from which to build as mental health reform discussions continue in Congress.” 

Bill authors highlight specific provisions of the comprehensive legislation:

"We've worked hard to pull all of the best ideas into one, non-partisan, comprehensive package. Reforming the mental and behavioral health systems must be done in a way that best supports Americans and families touched by mental and behavioral health issues," said Congressman Green. "This bill includes key provisions to update the use of Medicaid for care and removes barriers to home and community based mental health services. It represents our best ideas, and we are eager to kick start the discussion and move the process forward toward enacting a strong, comprehensive and transformative law."

“There is broad consensus that our mental health system needs substantial reforms to better serve patients," said Congresswoman DeGette. "I am proud to be part of a strong, comprehensive effort to further the discussion about how we make these needed reforms, and I am especially happy that the Comprehensive Behavioral Health Reform and Recovery Act supports more preventive and community-based care.”

“It is our shared goal that this legislation advances a larger discussion in Congress and serves as a platform for comprehensive mental health reform,” said Congresswoman Matsui. “We have worked tirelessly to find compromises that outline a path to reform that provides resources for prevention, as well as crisis care, so that patients have the support they need at whatever stage they are in their illness. I’m particularly pleased that this package contains provisions that I have long advocated for, from clarifying what can and cannot be shared under HIPAA law, to expanding the Excellence in Mental Health demonstration to ensure that more states have an opportunity to benefit from high quality, evidenced-based, and community-driven mental health care.”

"Mental health should be treated no differently than physical health. If your arm is broken, it is covered and you see a doctor. The same should be true with mental illness,” said Congressman Tonko. “Today's announcement includes a number of thoughtful, bipartisan ideas that achieve this end. Some of the many ideas I worked hardest to include are a bed registry program, repealing the 190-day lifetime cap for Medicare patients on psychiatric hospital stays, the TREAT Act, grants to help those with mental illness better re-enter society and including occupational therapists in our treatment of mental health well-being. I commend my colleagues for a sustained and tireless focus on these issues and hope we can advance these solutions in a timely manner."

“As someone whose mother struggled with mental health issues, I have experienced firsthand the necessity of timely and proper care,” said Congressman Loebsack. “I have long advocated for improving coordination between physical care and mental health care, so I am pleased that this package contains provisions I have championed to improve primary and mental health care integration. It is far past time that we start treating mental health for what it is – a medical condition affecting the brain that deserves the same level of treatment as any other condition.”

“Failure to invest in our mental health system’s full continuum of care has allowed too many Americans to fall through the cracks and suffer in silence,” said Congressman Kennedy. “Whether through meaningful reform to Medicaid's mental health coverage or by holding insurers accountable for violations of parity laws, this legislation will fill many of the gaps that have plagued our broken system for too long. With the support of our colleagues, we can pass this bill and ensure patients have access to the care and treatment they deserve.”

For a Section-by-Section Click Here

For the Text of the Legislation Click Here

For a One-Pager on the Legislation Click Here