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Saturday, 15 December 2018

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Take Action to STOP THE MURPHY BILL

Please note:  At this time, this section focuses on actions related to the House Muprhy Bill (HR 2646).  It will be updated in the near future to reflect actions that can be taken to stop the Senate version (S. 1945), as well!

It can be really hard to know where to even begin when it comes to the legislative process, but there are a number of things you can do and some of them require very little energy.  These include:

  1. Sign this petition and share it with your friends!
  2. Share blogs and articles against the Murphy Bill on social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.)
  3. Write or call your state legislators (see below for sample statements)
  4. Stay informed about recent developments!!!
  5. Write letters to the editor of your local newspaper or magazine or blog on-line! (See below for tips on how to do this effectively)

Contacting your Congressperson:

To find the contact information for your representative:

http://www.usa.gov/Contact/US-Congress.shtml

Your letter can include these suggestions adapted from @bazeloncenter on twitter

  • “As a constituent, I am calling (or writing) today to ask you (or Representative ______) to oppose the Murphy mental health bill H.R. 2646.
  • It severely limits critical legal advocacy on behalf of individuals with psychiatric diagnoses
  • It reduces privacy protections for individuals with psychiatric diagnoses.
  • It redirects federal money from innovative programs to involuntary outpatient commitment, which is expensive and ineffective.
  • And H.R. 2646 increases needless institutionalization.”

Sincerely,

(Your name)

Meeting with Your Congressperson:

Click here for information on how to schedule a meeting with legislators and what to say when you go!

 

Writing a Letter to the Editor:

Click here for some tips on what to do (and not do) when writing a letter to the editor couresty of www.reclaimdemocracy.org!

 

Organizations For & Against

 

At this time, this section refers primarily to the House Murphy Bill (HR 2646) and NOT the statements for or against the Senate Murphy Bill (S. 1945).  Stay tuned for future updates regarding supporters and opposition to each of the bills.

Click on each organization's name to read their position statement.

 

Organizations taking a stand AGAINST the Murphy Bill:

 

 

Organizations coming out as PRO Murphy Bill and PRO force:

 

 

Murphy Bill Overview

On Thursday, June 4, 2015 the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act was re-introduced by Representative Tim Murphy of Pennsylvania. It is also known as H.R. 2646 or, perhaps most commonly, as the ‘Murphy Bill.’ Although it is claimed that the second version of this Bill contains several compromises, it seems just as bad as the first.
 
In fact, it may actually be worse, and here’s why:
 
The second version of this bill uses toned down language and seems like it’s let go of some of it’s original (and more controversial) priorities. However, most of the ‘toning down’ seems superficial in nature, and so what this actually means is that the Bill is all the more likely to get passed while still essentially allowing for the same setbacks, invasiveness and rights violations to those receiving (or targeted as needing) services in the mental health system.
 
Ultimately, as with the first time this bill was introduced (2013), it suggests many changes to existing laws and programs that pose a serious risk to our work and movement.
Some of the most notable points include:
  • Increased Forced ‘Treatment’
  • It Guts the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
  • It Severely Limits How Advocates Can Support People Whose Rights are Being Violated
  • It Loosens Restrictions on HIPAA
  • Murphy Pretends to Support Peer-to-Peer Support as a Method to Control and Limit It

 

  • Increased Forced ‘Treatment’: The Murphy Bill seeks to loosen restrictions on when force can be used and ties certain types of federal funding to state implementation of Involuntary Outpatient Commitment (IOC) laws (also known as Assisted Outpatient Treatment or ‘AOT’). Although the Bill no longer requires a block on federal funds to a state that does not employ IOC, it still incentivizes it by giving more to states that do. IOC is a particular form of forced ‘treatment’ that allows for forced medication and a number of other requirements and limitations regarding how someone lives their life, sometimes for reasons as simple as the system feeling that that person has been hospitalized too frequently. (For more on IOC, see this article: www.westernmassrlc.org/rlc-articles/214-outpatient-commitment-laws-a-massachusetts)
  • It Guts the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA):SAMHSA has and continues to provide funding that many feel is important and highly impactful both for people who   struggle with addictions and substance abuse and those who struggle with emotional or mental distress, trauma and psychiatric diagnosis. For example, they provided the initial funding for Second Story Peer Respite in California. They are also responsible for funding peer-to-peer technical assistance centers like the National Empowerment Center in Massachusetts and Peerlink in Oregon, as well as for the funding that helped the Western Mass Recovery Learning Community develop the Handbook on Peer Roles (available here: www.psresources.info). Whatever complaints their may be about SAMHSA, gutting them and moving funds under the control of the Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Abuse Treatment would inevitably lead to the loss of many supports, particularly in the peer-to-peer realm.
  • It Severely Limits How Advocates Can Support People Whose Rights are Being Violated:In the first version of the bill, Murphy sought to gut the budget of the ‘Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness’ (PAIMI) programs (i.e., operating under the Disability Law Centers). This version shifts its tactic from budget reduction to placing limits directly on the authority of such advocates to act on complaints. In the end, the result is the same: Less support and advocacy to people whose rights are being violated.
  • It Loosens Restrictions on HIPAA: The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is what requires medical and mental health professionals to go to great lengths to keep your information private. In this second version of the Bill, Murphy has pretended that he is compromising by no longer okaying the release of psychotherapy notes. However, his new Bill still allows for the release of diagnosis, treatment plans, medication plans, and so on to family and caregivers even when against the person’s will.
  • Murphy Pretends to Support Peer-to-Peer Support as a Method to Control and Limit It: In the first version of the Murphy Bill, funding for peer roles was not supported. In what is being marked by some as a ‘concession’ by Rep. Murphy, the new bill encourages funding for peer support. However, the funding comes with a strict definition of what people in peer roles are able to do along with a requirement that they be supervised by mental health clinicians. Should this come to pass, it would devastate the concept of independent peer-run efforts and severely limit some of the most impactful peer supports currently available.

And all this is just the tip of the iceberg!

For more information:

Who is Tim Murphy?

Full Name:  Timothy F. Murphy220px 113th Congress Official Photo of Rep. Tim Murphy

Born:  September 11, 1952

Residency:  Born in Ohio, Lives in Pennsylvania

Current Position:  US Representative, Pennsylvania’s 18th District (since 2003)

Party Affiliation:  Republican

Background:  Murphy holds a PhD in psychology, Has worked as an assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Pittsburgh, and has co-authored several books (e.g., ’The Angry Child’).  

Why People are Listening To Him: 

  • Because he is seen as a ‘mental health professional’
  • Because people respond to those in power (and he’s been a politician for over a decade)
  • Because people get scared and want someone to have the answers

Why People Might Want to Think Twice About Listening To Him: 

141019 tim murphy ap 605

  • In 2010, Murphy was named among the 22 most corrupt members of Congress by the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. (www.crewsmostcorrupt.org
  • According to www.opensecrets.org, Healthcare and Pharmaceutical employees are two of Murphy’s top three campaign funders
  • Murphy has also regularly practiced opportunistic tactics that capitalize on the fear of US citizens, appearing on television to promote his agenda each and every time there is a tragedy in the country (see image to the left where Murphy takes a similar tactic, comparing Ebola to "dealing with terrorism")
  • He has openly attacked and mocked activities in the peer-to-peer community and consistently ignores evidence that does not support his personal agenda

 

For more about Tim Murphy, see his Wikipedia entry here.

 

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  • The Murphy Bills and Beyond

    In June of 2015, Representative Tim Murphy of Pennsylvania re-introduced the "Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act" (HR 2646), better known as the Murphy Bill.  A month later, Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut introduced a very similar bill in the Senate called the "Mental Health Reform Act of 2015" (S2680).  Both pieces of legislation threatened to dramatically increase the use of force and dismantle many of the more progressive and healing alternatives that have been developed in recent years. As of November 2016 the fate of both bills remained uncertain.

    Meanwhile, another piece of legislation called 21st Century Cures was in development and garnering increasing bipartisan support. A sweeping and expansive healthcare bill, 21st Century Cures was, initially, minimally focused on mental health provisions. Having been stalled in part due to resistance from Senate Democrats' concerns that the bill was dangerously empowering for the pharmaceutical industry, 21st Century Cures also faced an uncertain fate in November. However, the election of President Trump and consequent fears for the bill’s fate prompted a reworking of the bill that also included the absorption of many aspects of HR 2646, “Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis.”

    21st Century Cures was passed by the House and Senate on November 30th and December 7th of last year, respectively. On December 13, 21st Century Cures (now including substantial portions drawn directly from HR 2646, "Helping Familties in Mental Health Crisis") was signed into law by President Obama. 

     

      

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