This afternoon, the Health subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee will be marking up a "sweeping" mental heath care bill (H.R. 2646). The Hill and Modern Healthcare discuss a key feature of this bill --""Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT), where judges can mandate treatment for patients with serious mental illness. Modern Healthcare explains that
A companion bill in the Senate does not include language regarding AOT. It is scheduled for markup sometime early next year. John Snook, executive director of the Treatment Advocacy Center, said AOT treatment is necessary. Studies from the past several years show there are people who need more than voluntary treatment to remain in their communities.
The practice is supported by the U.S. Justice Department, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, American Psychiatric Association and National Alliance on Mental Illness, he said. “It's not a controversial program anymore,” he said, except on Capitol Hill. Snook said he understands the concerns that the bill will spur belief that people who are mentally ill are also violent, but the program isn't for violent individuals. It is for people who are caught up in jail or are homeless. It can help prevent the illnesses that cause everyday stigma, he said.On a related note, the evidently sheltered FEHBlog was startled by this headline in the Wall Street Journal -- "Drug deaths becoming a 2016 Presidential Issue." The article explains that
Nationally, drug overdoses now account for more deaths in the U.S. than motor vehicle accidents, with 52% attributed to prescription medications, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Health-care providers wrote 259 million prescriptions for pain medications in 2012, according to the CDC. Many patients who get hooked on pain pills later turn to heroin to achieve the same high, health officials say.That is a big bowl of wrong.