WASHINGTON— U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), a member of the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, attended the bill signing ceremony at the White House on Tuesday where President Obama signed his bipartisan Mental Health Reform Act as part of the 21st Century CURES Act into law. Murphy’s bill will comprehensively overhaul America’s mental health system, expand federal resources, and improve coordination for mental health and substance abuse treatment programs across the nation. The bill, which Murphy authored with U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy (R-La.), passed the Senate 94-5 last week.
“Today marks a breakthrough for people with mental illness and their families,” said Murphy. “It was an honor to stand behind President Obama at his final bill signing ceremony and watch him enact the most significant reforms of our mental health system in decades.”
“Mental illness and addiction do not discriminate, so our health care system shouldn’t either. It should be as easy to access a doctor or get prescriptions for an illness of the mind as it is for an illness of the body. It’s that simple principle that motivated all the work I put into this bill,” Murphy added. “I will keep working with Republicans and Democrats to make sure our bill is implemented as Congress intended, and to keep our bipartisan coalition engaged in mental health until we finish the job we started.”
After months of collaborating with mental health professionals, policy experts, consumers, and family members, Murphy and Cassidy introduced their bipartisan Mental Health Reform Act of 2015 to expand federal resources and improve coordination for mental health and substance abuse treatment programs. The Senators worked closely with U.S. Senators Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) to craft an updated bill, the Mental Health Reform Act of 2016, which passed the HELP Committee unanimously earlier this year. The Mental Health Reform Act of 2016 served as the basis for the mental health language passed last week.
A fact sheet on the bill can be found here.