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Change is a Choice: Reflections on the Markup of the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act

November 10, 2015

Post by Leah Harris on Pete Early website

I spent several hours reviewing the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee markup of “The Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis” Act (H.R. 2646). Some supporters of the Murphy Bill claim that Democratic objections to the bill should be dismissed as typical partisan wrangling. But this markup was much less a matter of partisan politics and much more a question of just how to fix our broken system. It is a battle about resources: whether to focus on funding a few costly, late-stage crisis interventions that only apply to a very small subset of people, or to reform the system from the ground up with a focus on preventing the very crises that the bill purports to address. It is a battle between outdated, authoritarian approaches to care, versus collaborative, person-centered approaches that represent the latest in science and good medicine.

At the markup, Democrats put forward the same arguments against the bill that have been made by mental health service users and advocates since the first version of the legislation was introduced in December 2013. The laundry list of objections to the bill are far too numerous to reiterate in this piece, but can be found  here  and  here. Arguments against the Murphy bill have rarely been heard in the mainstream media, which overwhelmingly endorse the bill and fail to include critical perspectives. For this reason, I was heartened to see clear critiques of the bill finally make it into the public record.

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