Thursday, July 28, 2016

Murphy Bill --Now With Guns?

Pretend there's a photo of the U.S. Capitol here.  Blogger is not cooperating.

Let me first send you to Pete Earley's blog to read about the Murphy Bill, HR2646, which was passed by the House of Representatives with a vote of 422-2.  The Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act had bipartisian and broad support, but not until it was sanitized of it's controversial issues: patient advocacy groups remained funded, outpatient commitment was de-emphasized, and the right of a  patient with a psychiatric disorder to refuse release of their health information to family/caregivers remained intact (at least for now).

Honestly, as a psychiatrist I was perplexed that these things would hold up the bill.  Access to good -- or any-- psychiatric care is a huge issue in our country.  Civil rights are important, psychiatry has a history of abuses, and patients should have access to advocacy.  HIPAA rights and outpatient commitment pertain a few patients  and while these may be pressing issues in the lives of the parents of the sickest of the sick, they are issues that don't come up everyday for your average psychiatrist.  So was I pleased when the Act was sanitized of some of the more controversial issues and I've deemed the newest version of HR 2646 the Vegetarian Version : not enough meat for the carnivores and too much for the vegans.  And P.S., none of these issues were going to prevent mass shootings anyway.  I just hope that if the legislation goes through, it leads to meaningful change in access to good care for the patients.

So a vote of 422 to 2; It seems we have a pizza bill with bipartisian support and little opposition -- all but two vegans knocked off the cheese and voted in favor.  Surely, such a bill will pass in the Senate, but if you read Pete's blog post, you know that the bill has hit a wall because Senator John Coryn of Texas wants to tack on a gun issue to the legislation.  Pete has gone into the details of the gun legislation Coryn wants to add, and I won't, because really, does it matter?  It's a mental health care bill;  it's not a gun bill.  It's time to separate these issue, and it's not the time to throw a bunch of controversial pepperoni on legislation that  has finally gotten agreement after three years of debate.  

Can we go home now? Oh, wait, Congress left already.

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