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Independent Living News & Policy from the National Council on Independent Living

Action Alert: We Need You To Act on the Murphy Bill!

Today, a harmful piece of legislation, the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act of 2015 (H.R. 2646, also known as the Murphy Bill) is being marked up by the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee. If one of your Representatives serves on this Subcommittee (see list below), please contact them right away.

We have drafted a sample letter. Enter your zip code at the NCIL Action Portal to view, edit, and send it to your Representative.

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent LivingPlease also contact them via phone, Twitter, and Facebook, and tell them NOT to support this bill in its current form! Please tell your friends, neighbors, and co-workers to do the same.

Provisions in this bill will dismantle many of the civil and human rights of people with psychiatric disabilities:

  • The bill is based on an inherently false assumption that people labeled with psychiatric disabilities are dangerous and pose some sort of threat to society. This assumption is untrue as people with psychiatric disabilities are disproportionately more likely to be the victims of violence rather than perpetrate it ourselves.
  • The proposed bill would implement significant changes in the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) threatening effective existing, evidence-based programs such as peer support. It would also place mental health professionals solely in charge of decisions directly affecting people with psychiatric disabilities. The bill would increase the use of forced treatment because mental health block grants for states would be contingent on states supporting involuntary outpatient treatment. Numerous studies have shown that forced treatment drives people away from the mental health system instead of encouraging people who want mental health treatment to voluntarily obtain it. Likewise, the bill also proposes to increase institutionalization with changes to the Institutions for Mental Diseases (IMD) exclusion.
  • The bill would seriously erode civil and human rights by limiting the work in which Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness (PAIMI) is permitted to engage. In a June 9, 2015 document distributed by the National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) the potential impact this change would have is detailed. “The national network of Protection & Advocacy (P&A) organizations have been assisting children and adults with psychiatric disabilities and their families since 1986 under the PAIMI program, to prevent abuse and neglect, ensure access to the services and supports, and protect civil and human rights. In Fiscal Year 2014, the P&As provided advocacy assistance to 13,936 individual clients through the PAIMI program, with issues including dangerous restraint and seclusion practices; failure to provide medical or mental health treatment; inappropriate and excessive use of medication; sexual assault; financial exploitation; lack of discharge planning; and discrimination in employment, housing and other areas. P&As successfully closed through the PAIMI program 313 systemic advocacy projects and litigation cases that potentially benefits over 27 million individuals …. and investigated 993 suspicious deaths.”
  • Finally, this bill proposes to create lower standards of privacy for people labeled with psychiatric disabilities due to proposed changes to HIPAA regulations.

Additional information on the bill can be found at on the National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) H.R. 2646 web page.

Please contact the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee right away!

List of House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee

Republicans:

  • Joe Pitts (PA), Chairman
  • Brett Guthrie (KY), Vice Chairman
  • Ed Whitfield (KY)
  • John Shimkus (IL)
  • Tim Murphy (PA)
  • Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (TX)
  • Marsha Blackburn (TN)
  • Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA)
  • Leonard Lance (NJ)
  • Morgan Griffith (VA)
  • Gus Bilirakis (FL)
  • Billy Long (MO)
  • Renee Ellmers (NC)
  • Larry Bucshon (IN)
  • Susan Brooks (IN)
  • Chris Collins (NY)
  • Joe Barton (TX)
  • Fred Upton (MI) (Ex Officio)

Democrats:

  • Gene Green (TX), Ranking Member
  • Eliot L. Engel (NY)
  • Lois Capps (CA)
  • Jan Schakowsky (IL)
  • G. K. Butterfield (NC)
  • Kathy Castor (FL)
  • John Sarbanes (MD)
  • Doris O. Matsui (CA)
  • Ben Ray Lujan (NM)
  • Kurt Schrader (OR)
  • Joseph P. Kennedy, III (MA)
  • Tony Cardenas (CA)
  • Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ) (Ex Officio)

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