Mental Health Reform

With half of Americans with mental health conditions going without essential services and supports—and others getting only minimal care—reform of our nation’s mental health system is a priority issue for NAMI.

Fortunately, Congress is listening.

There is unprecedented agreement in the U.S. House and Senate on the need for mental health reform. This has resulted in the introduction of several bills, each of which NAMI supports. All the bills have positive provisions that will help move mental health reform forward.

In the House

Representatives Tim Murphy (R-Pa.) and Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas) introduced H.R. 2646, the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act of 2015. The bill:

  • Passed the U.S. House of Representatives 422-2 on July 6, 2016. Watch the debate and vote.
  • Unanimously passed the House Energy and Commerce Committee on June 15, 2016;
  • Strengthens community crisis response; and
  • Helps support integration of health and mental health care.

Want more information on mental health reform? Here is a closer look.

In the Senate

Senators Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) introduced S. 2680, the Mental Health Reform Act of 2016 with strong leadership from Senators Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.). S. 2680 has a strong chance of getting a vote, but the window of time to get a bill passed is brief.

The Senate is pursuing a three-pronged strategy regarding mental health reform:

  1. Improve mental health care through provisions in S. 2680.
  2. Potential criminal justice reforms, including mental health diversion and reentry, if S. 2002 (sponsored by Sen. Cornyn) is included as an amendment to S. 2680.
  3. Potential changes to Medicaid and/or Medicare financing if the Senate Finance Committee sponsors an amendment to S. 2680. Getting an amendment to address financing will be difficult due to budget constraints, but possible proposals include:
  • Updating the Medicaid IMD exclusion to allow short-term stays;
  • Ending the Medicaid ban on same-day/same-facility billing of mental health and medical treatment;
  • Ending the Medicare 190-day lifetime psychiatric inpatient limit; and
  • Expansion of the certified community behavioral health clinic pilot. 

Both the Mental Health Reform Act of 2016 (S. 2680) and the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act of 2015 (HR 2646) will:

  • Improve integration and program coordination across federal agencies that serve people living with mental illness;
  • Improve integration of mental and physical health care;
  • Promote early intervention in the treatment of psychosis and use of evidence-based interventions; and
  • Provide resources for suicide prevention.

What Is NAMI Doing?

NAMI advocates have helped us send over 80,000 emails, 230,000 petition signatures, and hundreds of tweets to Congress asking them to pass mental health reform now. These efforts, along with Congressional meetings, have helped lead to unprecedented bipartisan discussions.

You can help too.

Take Action Now