Vern Buchanan Takes Sides in Mental Health Bill Fight

By: Kevin Derby | Posted: May 16, 2014 3:55 AM
Vern Buchanan

Vern Buchanan

U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., announced Thursday he is backing a major reform to federal treatment of mental illness.

Buchanan, the only member of the Florida delegation on the House Ways and Means Committee, said he was backing U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy’s, R-Pa., “Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act” which would ensure the federal government follows best practices as it allocates funds, currently around $125 billion, to help those with mental illness. The bill would ensure the federal Department of Health and Human Services collect evidence to prove its funds are being used effectively, increase outpatient treatment options, add more psychiatric beds and focus on rural outreach by embracing technological changes.

Buchanan noted on Thursday that the National Institute of Mental Health estimates almost 23 million Americans suffer from major mental illnesses, but many of them are not treated.

“Mental illness does not discriminate,” Buchanan said. “This is a disease that affects all segments of society and yet so many continue to fall through the cracks. We must do everything in our power to strengthen our mental health system so our loved ones receive the proper care and treatment they need.”

Buchanan stressed that Murphy’s proposal would only re-allocate current dollars instead of expanding costs.

Democrats in the House, led by U.S. Rep. Ron Barber, D-Ariz., have their own legislation which they’ve dubbed the “Strengthening Mental Health in Our Communities Act of 2014.” This proposal would launch a White House Office for Mental Health Policy, improve mental health services under Medicaid and Medicare, fund community and school mental health grants and increase funds to Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) programs

“We must do more to improve access to community-based services for individuals with mental illness,” said Barber when he unveiled his bill last week. “This is not a partisan issue. I am proud to introduce this legislation that will strengthen our mental health system – asking more from existing programs and better outcomes for individuals and families impacted by mental illness.”

Murphy’s team insists their bill, which has been backed by the American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the National Alliance on Mental Illness and the National Sheriffs Association, will do more than Barber’s.

“The Barber-Pelosi bill suffers from a serious case of denial,” said Susan Mosychuk, Murphy’s chief of staff. “It denies inpatient and outpatient treatment options to those who are experiencing an acute mental health crisis. It denies families the opportunity to be part of the care team and help their loved ones with serious mental illness. And it denies the reality that the lead federal agency, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, has failed in its mission. It’s almost as if the Barber bill wants to deny that people with severe and persistent mental illness exist. Denial doesn't work for substance abuse, and denial won't work for the families whose loved ones are in a mental health crisis.

“The Democrat bill will do nothing to prevent the next Jared Loughner, James Holmes, or Adam Lanza because it does nothing to help those with serious mental illness and continues funding the SAMHSA constituency of legal advocates and anti-psychiatry activists who use taxpayer dollars to force patients out of treatment,” Mosychuk added. “Chairman Murphy went to great lengths to work with members to fix our broken mental health system, but rather than work on a bipartisan effort, Ron Barber teamed up with Nancy Pelosi and Henry Waxman to simply maintain the status quo. Dr. Murphy is advancing real medical solutions; the Democrats are offering a placebo.”

Reach Kevin Derby at kderby@sunshinestatenews.com.

Comments (4)

Daniel Burdick
3:16PM MAY 19TH 2014
Hey do not look over here at what we are up to - we are only targeting a 1% group of marginal, disordered, dysfunctional people, who Need to be detected and dealt with by modern Medicine and the Law. No reason to care or be interested in what we are doing over here.

The scruffy group of people who are different than the rest of us can be dangerous. We do not want loony-toon wack-jobs like the bat man killer killing our little Suzy or Johnny. The seriously, severely mentally ill, mentally diseased need treatment, need medication, especially, if they are too sick to want it, or understand they need it, or to take it reliably on their own.

It is not that we are suggesting exterminating or even sterilizing the detected different ones at this time, or anything like that. No.

WE are merely suggesting our need in the Fatherland to have in place legal, infrastructure and social program means to screen every child and adult in the USA by Official Doctors employing behavioalr reports, word tests and interrogation or interview for mental disease.

Once all citizens are Officially Screened then those who are detected as potential dangers in the future, those detected as being different, or guilty of thought crime or pre-crime will receive the treatments ordered by the Officials and Courts. Especially if they do not want the treatments because of their anosognosia.

The results of screening everyone in the USA for potentially being deviant and "mentally diseased" and putting the official Medical results in Government files will be greater safety and well-being for the entire Country.

Helping those diagnosed with pre-crime and Mental Disease of course involves funding for programs and facilities for drugging with "Medications" both in-patient in locked wards, and also out-patient by "Assisted Treatment" Community Workers sometimes injecting long-lasting drug injections,

Of course it also includes taking away gun ownership and weapons from anyone detected as at anytime in the future possible threats to anyone (obviously not in violation of the 2nd amendment, and obviously helpful with the many armed service veterans in the USA who may have Mental Disease.)

So again never-mind what we are doing to help the mere 1% of those different, abnormal, marginal people who have Brain Disease, Mental Illness. It is best for them and for your Community that they receive doctor's treatment, and it is otherwise of No Concern to you -- because you are not one of Them and it all has No effect whatever on you and other people who are not Mentally Sick-- except to make you all safe from those people who are ordered by their dog or the TV or whatever, "the voices," to kill innocent people.

We Care, vote for us next time (or else).
Frank Blankenship
10:47AM MAY 19TH 2014
"Mental illness" is not the source of gun violence in the USA. It is absurd to see reforming the mental health system as the solution to gun violence in this nation. Any and every behavior under the sun, moon, and stars can presently be labeled "mentally disordered" after the fact. We are skirting the real source of the problem, hate groups and gun culture, by going after people in the mental health system. "Mentally ill" people didn't do it any more than "mentally healthy" people did it. Multiple murder involves multiple criminal offenses. Multiple murder is not the symptom of any "disease" anywhere. People in the mental health system in NAZI Germany served a preparatory purpose in the development the final solution to the Jewish question, that is, they were exterminated first. Once again, it's all too easy to scapegoat the usual scapegoats rather than to tackle the real problem, and that's exactly what's being done here.
Kay Weeks
9:56PM MAY 16TH 2014
Mental health experts that spoke to a committee formed by the governor of the state CT said that the mental health conditions that ADAM LANZA had been diagnosed with do NOT result in the kind of premeditated violence that he committed.

Also, substance abuse is what caused Jared Loughner's schizophrenia.

Also, an autopsy report revealed that the lead Columbine shooter Eric Harris currently had psychiatric drugs (antidepressants) that had been peescribed to him in his body at the time of his murderous rampage.
7:23PM MAY 16TH 2014
The Federal Government has no business even touching the "mental health issue". Just like any other health care, it is a state's issue.

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