Kilmer, Herrera Beutler & Murphy Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Help Mental Health Patients in Crisis

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Representatives Derek Kilmer (D-WA), Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA), and Tim Murphy (R-PA) introduced legislation today that would help people suffering from a behavioral health or substance abuse crisis get more immediate help. The Mental Health and Substance Abuse Treatment Accessibility Act of 2016 would allow the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to provide loans and loan guarantees to local entities with plans to build psychiatric and substance abuse facilities.

Across the country there is an acute need for facilities that provide short-term stays for individuals suffering from psychiatric and substance disorders. The Treatment Advocacy Center reports that there are just 37,559 inpatient beds available nationwide for an average of 11.7 inpatient beds per 100,000 people. The same survey found that the number should be closer to 40 to 60 beds per 100,000 people.

“Our country is facing a mental health challenge that has hit all our communities,” said Kilmer. “Too many of our neighbors are suffering from behavioral and substance abuse disorders and not getting proper treatment. That has left emergency rooms and jail cells overwhelmed while leaving families hurting. I’m proud to work with Representatives Herrera Beutler and Murphy to introduce a bill that will give a jump-start to local proposals to build brand new psychiatric facilities.”

“Far too often, people suffering a mental health or substance abuse crisis don’t get the immediate help they need because our communities lack the necessary resources,” said Jaime. “By partnering with Representatives Kilmer and Murphy on this solution, we hope to better address the needs of those struggling with mental illness, make available more resources to keep our communities safe, and relieve the overload on emergency rooms ill-equipped for these cases.  Importantly, this solution will pay for itself and provide value to Southwest Washington taxpayers while strengthening our communities.” 

“Access to inpatient mental healthcare is a cornerstone to our effort in delivering treatment before tragedy. This bill will work to make that possible, and I am pleased to support Rep. Kilmer’s bipartisan approach to improving access to crisis mental health care,” said Murphy.

Under the members’ bill, HHS could offer loans and guarantees to psychiatric treatment facilities, substance abuse treatment facilities, and public and private psychiatric hospitals for the planning and construction of new facilities. The bill would also make needed investments to community based outpatient programs with any revenue generated from the loans.