Rep. Cook Votes for Mental Health Care Reform
Washington, D.C. – Rep. Paul Cook (R-Apple Valley) voted for H.R. 2646, the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act. Cook is a cosponsor of this bipartisan bill, which passed with overwhelming support.
H.R. 2646 reforms the nation’s broken mental health system by refocusing programs and removing federal barriers to care. The legislation establishes an Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use to run the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Agency (SAMSHA) and helps coordinate mental health programs across the federal government.
It would direct the Secretary of Health and Human Services to clarify medical privacy rules to improve communication among providers, families, and patients to improve mental health treatment for those with serious mental illness.
Additionally, the bill codifies a recent Medicaid rule to foster access to care for short-term stays of adults in institutions for mental disease, and improves mental health care for children with serious emotional disturbance or adults with serious mental illness, including expansion of Assisted Outpatient Treatment.
More than 11 million Americans have severe schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depression. Millions are going without treatment, and individuals and families struggle every day to find appropriate care.
A recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) study highlighted that 112 federal programs intended to address mental illness are not connecting for effective service delivery and “interagency coordination for programs supporting individuals with serious mental illness is lacking.” Meanwhile, the federal government dedicates $130 million annually towards mental health. This legislation is fiscally responsible and fully offset, with a net deficit reduction of $5 million.
Rep. Cook said, “We’re not doing enough to address mental health. This bill is the first serious reform to our nation’s mental health programs in decades. It addresses many of the problems with the current system and does so in a fiscally responsible way that will result in better care.”
A member of the House Natural Resources, Armed Services, and Foreign Affairs Committees, Cook served as an infantry officer and retired after 26 years as a Colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps. During his time in combat, he was awarded the Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts.