Mental Health Bill Gets a Second Chance

Rep. Tim Murphy’s big mental health bill is getting a second chance this week, with its most controversial provision stripped out.

A House subcommittee plans on Tuesday to consider the 173-page plan, which Murphy has ceaselessly championed over the last year and a half. The Pennsylvania Republican, who is a psychiatrist, has emerged as Congress’ most vocal proponent of reforming the way mental healthcare is delivered.

Hoping to gather more traction for his bill, Murphy made some revisions to it. That included removing its most controversial provision: a requirement that states set up outpatient treatment programs to receive certain federal grants.

Under such programs, judges may order treatment for those with serious mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, often as an alternative to jail or as a condition to be released from jail. While the severely mentally ill are thought incapable of choosing the care they need, some fear such programs restrict civil liberties because they’re required to undergo treatment involuntarily.