Posted July 30, 2014
Representative Tim Murphy (R-Pa.) is continuing to push for passage of his Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act (H.R. 3717) even as the clock to the August 1st congressional recess counts down. Meanwhile the bill’s supporters continue to ask why the National Alliance on Mental Illness has not urged its thousands of members to lobby for its passage.
On the House floor Tuesday (July 29th), Murphy described barriers that are keeping individuals with mental illnesses from getting meaningful care. As a result, some 365,000 of them are in jails and prisons. Today (July 30th), Murphy will co-host a congressional briefing where he will call for reforms in the IMD exclusion – a tool which the federal government uses to prevent states and private mental health care providers from operating facilities with more than 16 beds. The federal government adopted the IMD rule in 1965 as part of its deinstitutionalization campaign. Its refusal to allow Medicaid dollars to be spent on patients in large hospitals is one reason why states began closing down those facilities.
At the briefing today, Murphy and Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, (D-Tx.), a cosponsor of H.R. 3717, will explain how the IMD rule is unintentionally contributing to homelessness. I saw this first hand in Miami when a successful housing program called Passageways was forced to vacate 16 beds in its 32 bed housing unit because of the IMD rule. The program’s founders were hard pressed to find suitable housing for those 16 clients who had been living in clean, comfortable and safe rooms. Having half of the program’s clients booted out of their rooms also had a financial impact on the program. This incident was a perfect example of why the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the nation’s largest grassroots mental health agency, has been calling for reform of the IMD rule.