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Committee Passes Mental Health Bill - 3-17-16

17 Mar 2016 9:59 PM | CSWA Administrator (Administrator)

Dear CSWA Affiliated Society Members,

    Yesterday the HELP Committee (Health, Education, Labor and Pensions) passed S. 2680, the Mental Health Reform Act of 2016. CSWA sent a summary of this bill last week and is in support.  The bill was introduced by Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Patty Murray (D-WA), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), and Chris Murphy (D-CT), this bipartisan legislation provides vital reforms to mental health funding to increase patients’ access to effective and evidence-based care particularly focused to those with serious mental illness (SMI).  

    S. 2680 incorporates and builds upon S. 1945, the bill created last year by Sens. Murphy and Cassidy. Here is a summary of the bill:

  • Supporting SAMHSA by establishing a new Inter-Departmental Serious Mental Illness Coordinating Committee.
  • Creating an Assistant Secretary of Mental Health position to give mental health a higher administrative level.
  • Significantly improving grant programs promoting integration of primary and behavioral health care.
  • Clarifying disclosure of protected health information (PHI) under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and requirements for communication between providers, patients, and families.

    There is more work to do but this is a significant step forward.  Clinical social workers are included in S. 2680 as covered providers several times, as they were in the House bill H.R.1945 in 2014 after CSWA, with NASW’s support, first raised the issue of including LCSWs.  Whatever bill emerges from the mental health bills being considered by Congress, the place of clinical social workers appears secure.

Laura Groshong, LICSW, CSWA Director, Policy and Practice

PO Box 10
Garrisonville, Virginia  22463

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