Lance to Introduce Legislation on Mental Health Services
It is expected to provide more access to these services.
Rep. Leonard Lance, R-7, held a press conference Monday at the Richard Hall Community Mental Health Center in Bridgewater about legislation he will be introducing concerning mental health services.
According to a release from Lance's office, the legislation is called the "Excellence in Mental Health Act," and is designed to strengthen the nation's mental health services.
"Although many gun-control proposals remain contentious, members of Congress from both sides of the aisle agree that improving mental health care must be a part of any broader effort to reduce gun violence," Lance said, according to the release. "So today I join colleagues in the U.S. House and Senate in introducing the Excellence in Mental Health Act aimed at expanding and improving access to mental health services at community clinics around the country so that we can better identify and treat those at risk of violent behavior."
The legislation was introduced by Rep. Doris Matsui, D-CA, and places community mental health centers on equal footing with other health centers, the release said. It serves to improve quality standards and expands access to allow more people to get the health care they need, the release said.
At the time, the release said, there are about 2,000 community mental health centers serving 8 million patients across the country.
Similar legislation in the Senate is being sponsored by Marco Rubio, R-FL; Debbie Stabenow, D-MI; and Roy Blunt, R-MO.
The bill, the release said, provides mental health facilities with the ability to expand their opportunities, including with the Federally Qualified Community Behavioral Health Center designation. It allows them to qualify for federal funding, the release said, so long as they have met certain criteria, including offering 24-hour psychiatric care.
This legislation provides the possible opportunity to serve at least 1.5 million more patients each year.
According to the release, the data has found that less than one-third of Americans with diagnosable mental illnesses receive treatment, and 25 percent of returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan have some kind of mental health condition.
"Our bill will help address a fragmented mental health system and ensure that more patients have access to the care they need," Lance said in the release. "And by improving quality standards and consolidating various elements of the U.S. mental health system, we are spending federal dollars more wisely."
The House Energy and Commerce Committee, which Lance is a member of, is holding a forum Tuesday to bring together top mental health experts in the nation, including leading researchers and providers concerning the national dialogue on violence, guns and mental illness.
The committee, the release said, is also looking to improve the nation's mental health system, and is planning to investigate how federal privacy rules affect the ability of state local governments to share mental health records with criminal background systems.