Rep. Tim Murphy touts mental health reform legislation and pledges psychology internship funding

Congressman Murphy addresses psychology leaders at annual conference.

Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Pa., a psychologist, spoke Feb. 28 before a packed crowd at the annual State Leadership Conference sponsored by APA and the APA Practice Organization. Murphy discussed The Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act (H.R. 2646), which he introduced last year along with Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Texas, a psychiatric nurse.

The legislation aims to help more than 11 million Americans who live with serious mental illness, and their families who struggle to find them proper and timely care. Often forced to go without treatment, many end up homeless, in emergency rooms or incarcerated. Murphey’s bill and the Senate companion legislation, Mental Health Reform Act of 2015 (S. 1945), would make an array of reforms to the mental health care system, strengthening programs and providing additional resources for patients and families most in need of mental health care and support services.

In addition, Murphy's remarks touched on the need to increase the mental health workforce. He pledged to include Medicare funding for hospital-based clinical psychology internship programs as an amendment to his bill. For many health professions, Medicare reimburses hospitals for these training programs. It does not do so for psychology. As a result, hospitals have cut back or eliminated their internship programs for psychologists. This limits patient access to needed mental health care services and reduces the number of training opportunities available to psychologists.

Murphy also encouraged his colleagues to “be passionate, tell your story, and talk about people, not concepts” when visiting legislators on Capitol Hill on the last day of the State Leadership Conference. Psychologists urged their congressional representatives to pass consensus, bipartisan mental health reform legislation based on Murphy’s and the Senate companion bill.

For more information on how you can advocate for legislation that promotes the profession and benefits patients, please go to the Legislative Action Center on Practice Central.