Roy Blunt, junior Senator from Missouri, said in a USA Today op-ed in 2013 that “people with mental health problems are almost never dangerous. In fact, they are more likely to be the victims than the perpetrators. At the same time, mental illness has been the common denominator in one act of mass violence after another.” Two years later, headlines are once again linking mental health to senseless acts ranging from the deliberate downing of a Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps by a co-pilot with a history of depression to the recent on-air shootings of a TV reporter, interview subject and cameraman by a disgruntled ex-station employee. As a result, Congress is taking up mental health reform, and new legislation could become a catalyst for disruptive innovation in healthcare.
How Capitol Hill Could Spur More Culturally Competent Care
When Senators Bill Cassidy and Chris Murphy introduced a comprehensive reform bill in early August, Senator Murphy answered the question, “Why now?” Senator Murphy emphasized that he has been interested in reforming the U.S. mental health system for a long time, but admits that recent high-profile gun violence makes it easier to gain bi-partisan support.
He said, “I’m sorry the reason that we're seriously entertaining it is because these increasing episodes of mass violence, but the reality is, if you have a political opportunity to do something good, you take it. And I think we have a growing consensus that Congress can't stand silent, completely silent, in the wake of these shootings.”
The Cassidy-Murphy bill is not the only one under consideration. Another mental-health bill put forth by Senators Lamar Alexander and Patricia Murray is under review by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. And earlier this summer, House Representatives Tim Murphy and Eddie Bernice Johnson reintroduced their Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act. What do the various bills entail?
- The Cassidy-Murphy Bill. Focused on integrating physical and mental healthcare systems, the Bill establishes grant programs for early intervention, addresses deficiencies in Medicare and Medicaid mental-health services, reinforces mental-health parity measures and creates committees centered on issues related to mental illness.
- The Alexander-Murray Bill. Narrower in its focus, this bill addresses suicide prevention, childhood trauma recovery, mental-health awareness for educators, and barriers to integrated primary and behavioral healthcare.
- The Murphy-Johnson Bill. This legislation tackles some of the same issues as above, as well as psychiatric treatment reforms, offers training for law enforcement and first responders, creates the position of Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders within the HHS to improve visibility of mental-health issues and support evidence-based programs. This bill also includes establishing a National Mental Health Policy Laboratory to fuel innovation.
If Congress moves forward with legislation this fall—and all signs point to a bi-partisan commitment to do so—hospitals and other healthcare providers will need to make dramatic changes.
The pressure isn’t only coming from Capitol Hill. Kaiser Health News reports that when former Representative Patrick Kennedy testified last month before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health, he stated that the Murphy-Johnson Bill known as the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act of 2015, would address a major flaw in current mental health care: waiting for a crisis rather than intervening early.
While serving in Congress, he worked with his father, Senator Edward Kennedy, to pass the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008. Since leaving Congress in 2010, Patrick Kennedy has worked tirelessly for The Kennedy Forum, the mental health advocacy coalition he founded and as co-founder of One Mind, a nonprofit research organization focused on evidence-based mental health cures and therapy.
Motivated by previous healthcare reforms, hospitals have proven they’re capable of disruptive innovation in healthcare, like the Laugh Café at Sibley Memorial Hospital. They’re also well aware of the need to provide culturally competent care—whether we’re talking about a demographic of patients that speak English as a second language or mental health. Perhaps a new form of motivation will come out of legislators’ renewed interest in mental health when Congress reconvenes on September 8. How will you respond?
c2b solutions Presenting at World Healthcare Congress
c2b solutions and PatientBond have partnered in a joint presentation at the 7th Annual Insurer’s Consumer Experience and Retention Summit, held by the World Health Care Congress September 17-18, 2015, at the Hilton Boston Logan. The title of this presentation is “Retain Exchange Members and Improve Re-Enrollment by Using Psychographic Segmentation and Personalized Communication.”
For further details on the 7th Annual Insurer’s Consumer Experience and Retention Summit, the following link allows one to download a pdf brochure that provides logistics, speakers and sponsors of the event:
This promises to be a valuable forum for anyone interested in consumer experience and member retention. We hope to see you there!