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Herrera Beutler, Kilmer, Murphy & Johnson Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Help Mental Health Patients in Crisis

Legislation would support the construction of psychiatric facilities providing short-term inpatient care

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Washington, DC, February 28, 2017 | comments
U.S. Representatives Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA), Derek Kilmer (D-WA), Tim Murphy (R-PA), and Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) introduced legislation today that would help people suffering from a behavioral health or substance abuse crisis get more immediate help.
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U.S. Representatives Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA), Derek Kilmer (D-WA), Tim Murphy (R-PA), and Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) introduced legislation today that would help people suffering from a behavioral health or substance abuse crisis get more immediate help. The Mental Health and Substance Abuse Treatment Accessibility Act of 2017 provides resources necessary to combat the shortage of mental health providers and inpatient beds across the nation by allowing the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to provide loans and loan guarantees to local entities with plans to build psychiatric and substance abuse facilities.

A severe shortage of providers and inpatient beds exists not only for mental illness treatment but also for substance abuse leaving too many families in mental health crisis unable to get desperately-needed, immediate treatment. According to the Treatment Advocacy Center, there is a shortage of nearly 100,000 inpatient beds nationwide.

Under the bipartisan Mental Health and Substance Abuse Treatment Accessibility Act, HHS could offer loans and guarantees to psychiatric treatment facilities, substance abuse treatment facilities, and public and private psychiatric hospitals for the planning and construction of new facilities. The bill would also make needed investments to community based outpatient programs with any revenue generated from the loans.

“Many are struggling with mental health and substance abuse in our communities and because of the shortage of inpatient beds it can be weeks or months before individuals can receive treatment. Individuals and families struggling with mental health disorders will benefit from this important, bipartisan solution,” said Jaime. “Too often, hospitals and law enforcement are having to overcommit resources and are simply ill-equipped to try and assist those individuals in a mental health crisis.  Our effort will provide relief and strengthen our communities without putting any additional burdens on taxpayers.”

“Our country is facing a mental health challenge that has hit all our communities,” said Kilmer. “Too many of our neighbors are suffering from behavioral and substance abuse disorders and not getting proper treatment. That has left emergency rooms and jail cells overwhelmed while leaving families hurting. I’m proud to work with Representatives Herrera Beutler and Murphy to keep working on our bill that will give a jump-start to local proposals to build brand new psychiatric facilities.”

“Access to inpatient mental healthcare is a cornerstone to our effort in delivering treatment before tragedy. This bill will work to make that possible, and I am pleased to support Rep. Kilmer’s bipartisan approach to improving access to crisis mental health care,” said Murphy.

“Patients with mental illness and especially severe mental illness need access to acute care psychiatric beds to have a chance for recovery,” said Johnson. “The consequences of non-treatment are extremely visible in our communities. Individuals are often warehoused in prisons or jails or even face homelessness rather than gaining access to a treatment facility due to the scarcity of beds. In this country, that is unacceptable and we must find bipartisan solutions to help people with mental illness gain access to treatment and create robust communities.”

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