I hope all Pittsburghers share my pride in U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy’s new bill, the “Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act.” The bill would help alleviate two of the major barriers facing families like mine when trying to get their mentally ill members help:
• The current standard to get someone committed against his or her will. The bill would tie block grants to the states to encourage states to modify the treatment standards from one based on “imminent danger” to one based on a “need for treatment” standard.
• The severe lack of hospital beds to treat the mentally ill. Medicaid currently will not reimburse hospitals for psychiatric care at hospitals with more than 16 psychiatric beds. This policy has led to a severe shortage of psychiatric beds. A chronic shortage of beds nationwide can sometimes force those in need of treatment to be released back to the community with no or insufficient treatment.
Changes such as those proposed in Rep. Murphy’s bill could help prevent other families from enduring the tragedy that occurred with my son, Levi. It was obvious to family and professionals that he was in desperate need of treatment for schizophrenia. But he did not appear to meet the “imminent danger” criteria until he stabbed and killed my mother without warning. How many more mothers have to die before we change the laws? Please support HR 3717 to help families in mental health crises.