MIDDLETOWN, CT — U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy stated his case for his bill to reform mental healthcare Wednesday at a community forum attended by more than 100 representatives of state and community organizations at Community Health Center, Inc. in Middletown.
“Our nation’s mental health system is broken, and the family members and providers that I met with at Community Health Center, Inc. are desperate for Congress to help fix it,” Chris Murphy said. “Over the last year, I’ve heard hundreds of heartbreaking stories from families across Connecticut and worked with them to draft the bipartisan Mental Health Reform Act. We’re finally on the cusp of reforming our mental health system for the first time in a generation. I urge Senate leadership to take action and bring this bill up for a vote as soon as Congress returns to Washington this fall.”
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Mark Masselli, president and CEO of the Community Health Center, Inc., introduced Murphy, saying “Connecticut residents have been watching Sen Murphy’s representation of us with a great deal of pride and respect.”
Murphy has been engaged in promoting collaboration on mental healthcare reform as an issue that affects all American, Masselli said. “This forum is a great example of his work bringing us together and getting us excited about reform.”
The Mental Health Reform Act of 2016, which Murphy co-sponsored with Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), was voted unanimously out of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions earlier this year. It calls for more financial support for states’ mental health programs, for using the most up-to-date evidenced-based approaches in treatment programs, for integration of primary care and mental health services and for expanding training opportunities and encouraging careers in behavioral health focused on the underserved.
The bill also highlights the importance of telehealth and health information technology, which CHC uses in its patient care with its eConsults and Project ECHO programs.
At the forum, Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services Commissioner Miriam Delphin-Rittmon applauded Murphy for “listening and using the participatory approach to strengthen the bill and getting it more focused on recovery and the promotion of integrated care.”
Forum participants spoke about the need for better access to treatment, for more insurance coverage and reimbursement for treatment, and the need to focus more resources on preventive care.
In closing, Murphy said the bill has more champions now and they will work together to try to get the bill passed by the full Senate in September and signed into law before the end of the year.