The new mental health reform bill introduced by Rep Murphy provides for the following according to the Treatment Advocacy Center:
" Requires states to have commitment criteria broader than “dangerousness” and to authorize assisted outpatient treatment (AOT) in order to receive Community Mental Health Service Block Grant funds.
Allocates $15 million for a federal AOT block grant program to fund to 50 grants per year for new local AOT programs.
Carves out an exemption in HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) allowing a “caregiver” to receive protected health information when a mental health care provider reasonably believes disclosure to the caregiver is necessary to protect the health, safety or welfare of the patient or the safety of another. (The definition of “caregiver” includes immediate family members.)"
What does it mean?
1. States will be substantially limited in their control over their own mental health policy. This, in and of itself, represents a radical change of immense implications. It is a wall once breached that will never be rolled back.
2. The future direction of mental health policy will basically be in the hands of the Treatment Advocacy Center. After years and years of failing to get states to follow their policy of coercion first to the degree they want their view would effectively become federal policy. What they could never win by choice they will win by force.
3. Much gains in knowledge about what really works and helps people with mental health issues would be rendered unimportant and out of fashion. The notion of recovery would be given a death blow.
4. States by federal statute would have to agree to commit more and more people.
5. Failure to do so would make you ineligible for federal block grants that are the backbone of so many state mental health budgets.
6. Privacy laws would not allow so much privacy. Confidentiality would have holes big enough to drive a hole through.
And that is only the beginning. It is a step back into an era of mental health care that was a national disgrace and one in which a diagnosis of mental illness was a life sentence.