The Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee will this week consider H.R. 2646, the “Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act,” introduced by Congressman Tim Murphy (R-PA). This bipartisan legislation will transform the nation’s wasteful and ineffectual mental health system and ensure finite taxpayer resources are best spent to treat the millions of patients across the country. ATR supports this important, common sense reform package and urges all members of the Energy & Commerce Committee and the full House of Representatives to support this legislation.
The Murphy mental health reform will overhaul the nation’s failing mental health system by prioritizing evidence-based care, empowering caregivers, supporting innovation, and advancing early prevention programs among other important solutions.
But most importantly for taxpayers, these reforms will curb wasteful spending that all too often misses the mark. Each year, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) spends $3.6 billion in taxpayer resources for little return. Even this is just the top of the iceberg – the federal government spends a total of $130 billion on mental health each year.
But even with this ample funding, millions of Americans face a system that fails to meet their mental health needs. Currently, there remains a 100,000 shortage of psychiatric beds and a chronic shortage of child psychiatrists among other troubling shortcomings. Evidently, the problem is not lack of resources but an ineffective system more fine-tuned toward cronyism than looking after patients.
In the past, SAMSHA has received the dubious honor of “worst government agency.” Similarly, federal watchdog reports have already raised alarms about the web of ineffectual mental health programs. In fact, a recent report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that the 112 federal programs intended to address mental health fail to coordinate their efforts.
Clearly, reform is needed. Congressman Murphy’s legislation will ensure that the federal government is no longer throwing money at a problem with little return. The mental health system in America has proven itself a complex web of wasteful, ineffectual programs. The Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act will reform this broken system and ensure taxpayer funds are wisely spent.