Kennedy: Passing MH Bill This Year Will Do 'More Harm than Good'

Patrick Kennedy: Passing Mental Health Reform Bill In Lame Duck 'More Harm Than Good.'
Politico October 27, 2016

The former Rhode Island congressman, now a mental health advocate, is hoping that lawmakers wait until the next Congress to take up mental health reform, saying that approving the House-passed reform bill, currently awaiting a Senate vote, would "do more harm than good."

Kennedy told POLITICO's Brianna Ehley that the pending bill is "so watered down" and does nothing more than "reallocate money around block grants" when it should instead "try for higher reimbursement rates" for behavioral health providers. "Passing that bill will take the wind out of the sales for real reform," he added. "Kick it to the next Congress and the new administration to do this the right way."

…GOP leaders in both chambers have signaled they plan to take up a bipartisan mental health reform bill before the end of the year. But the legislation is largely seen as a first, incremental step and won't likely include new money. Some advocates, like Kennedy, are hoping a new Congress and a new administration will be more open to reform legislation accompanied by new investments. Hillary Clinton earlier this year rolled out a sweeping mental health plan that includes much of what advocates want, including a focus on integrating mental and physical health care and partnering with HUD to increase community-based housing for people with serious mental illness.