December 7, 2016. Hartford, CT – Today, the Senate approved passage of the “21st Century Cures Act,” a bill that includes bipartisan mental health reform for research, treatment, and emergency funding to fight the nation’s opioid epidemic. Mental Health Connecticut (MHC) joins President Obama, U.S. Senator Chris Murphy from Connecticut, and many other mental health advocates in applauding their multiple efforts to usher in the first major nationwide mental reform legislation in more than 50 years.
“This legislation shifts the nation’s priorities from investing in post-crisis and response care to putting efforts where they belong – in prevention, identification, health care integration, and recovery. This bill serves as a foundation to support millions of individuals with mental health conditions who need access to mental health and substance use services, community-based supports, and the integration of mental and physical health,” said Luis Pérez, Mental Health Connecticut’s President & CEO.
The bill includes provisions that build on the bipartisan work of Senator Murphy’s work on the “Mental Health Reform Act,” such as strengthening transparency and enforcement of existing mental health parity laws and promoting the use of evidence-based practices, two critical focus areas for Mental Health Connecticut. The bill also strengthens funding for suicide prevention and will help fight the heroin and prescription opioid epidemic by investing $1 billion in overdose prevention and care.
Mental Health Connecticut understands that, like all comprehensive legislation, this bill is not perfect. There are provisions that still need to be improved. MHC shares some of the concerns of non-supporters of this bill, particularly around the loosening of FDA regulations, but sees the passage of this legislation as a critical step forward towards tangible progress in mental health reform.