Mental health reform act passes House

Murphy calls for swift Senate passage

U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn), co-author of the bipartisan Mental Health Reform Act and member of the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, delivered a speech on the floor of the U.S. Senate emphasizing the urgent need for Congress to pass mental health reforms and provide relief to the millions of Americans coping with mental illness.

During the speech, Murphy urged his Senate colleagues to immediately pass the bipartisan deal — which was passed by the House last night — to overhaul the nation’s mental health system, address the opioid and heroin crisis, and increase investments in medical research.

Murphy worked closely with U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) to craft the mental health provisions included in the bill. The Senate is expected to vote on the bill next week.

“I’d heard too many devastating stories of people struggling with serious mental illness and addiction whose lives were forever changed because they couldn’t get the care they need,” Murphy said. “I’d seen up close the heartbreak and frustration that families suffered trying to find care for a loved one — care that seemed impossible to find and even harder to pay for. That’s why I worked with Republicans and Democrats on the Mental Health Reform Act.

“With today’s House passage of the bill, Congress is closer than ever to passing mental health reform and making a real difference in millions of people’s lives. I’ll be working hard to get the bill over the finish line in the Senate so President Obama can sign it into law before he leaves office.”

Murphy praised the bipartisan agreement to pass mental health reform and new funding to combat the opioid epidemic during the lame duck session of Congress.

The negotiated bill, released by House Republicans, combines important health-related measures waiting for congressional action — mental health reform, emergency funding to address the opioid and heroin crisis and increased investments in medical research.

Last week, Murphy called on Congress to pass “bipartisan mental health [reform] and new funding for treatment and recovery programs this year before the holidays.”

“Nearly everyone I talk to knows someone who had been victimized by our nation’s broken mental health system or our country’s heroin epidemic,” Murphy said. “I’m excited Republicans and Democrats have put politics aside and reached a compromise that will allow a mental health reform bill to pass side by side with major new funding to confront the nation’s opioid crisis.

“Both parties needed to make concessions to get this deal done, but the deal that has been struck is good for patients and families. I hope we get it done and on the president’s desk as soon as possible.”  

Murphy is co-author of the bipartisan Mental Health Reform Act, which will expand federal resources and improve coordination for mental health and substance abuse treatment programs.

Murphy also supported the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) signed into law this year, and has been a leader in calling for additional resources for federal programs that treat and prevent opioid use and addiction.

Earlier this year, Murphy spent a “Day in the Life,” meeting with patients, health professionals, law enforcement, and advocates around Connecticut to learn firsthand how he can improve federal efforts to combat Connecticut’s addiction crisis and save lives.

In Connecticut, deaths caused by drug overdoses have skyrocketed. In 2015, 729 Connecticut residents died from drug overdoses, including 415 heroin-related deaths.

U.S. Senator Chris Murphy

U.S. Senator Chris Murphy

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