KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Senate Hearing Urges Action On Obama Mental Health Care Agenda

Democrats and Republicans expressed concerns about gaps in the system at the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

Politico: Newtown Renews Panel's Focus On Mental Health
At a hearing Thursday, Democrats and Republicans on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee urged the Obama administration to hurry up aspects of its mental health agenda. The lawmakers didn't specifically talk much about gun violence or President Barack Obama's sweeping proposals to combat it after the school shooting in Newtown, Conn. But there was a fair amount of bipartisan concern about gaps in access to mental health care, and about unfinished pieces of the mental health system (Cunningham, 1/25).

Reuters: U.S. Mental Health Experts Urge Focus On Early Treatment
The U.S. mental health system has huge gaps that prevent millions of people with psychological problems, including children and teens, from receiving effective treatment that could prevent tragic consequences, experts told U.S. lawmakers on Thursday. ... experts told a Senate hearing that three-quarters of mental illnesses emerge by age 24, but fewer than one in five youths with diagnosable problems receive treatment that could avoid later problems including violence and suicide (Morgan, 1/24).

Related, earlier KHN story: Children, Teens, Young Adults Focus Of Mental Health Provisions In Obama's Gun Plan (Varney, 1/17).

The Hill: US Mental Health Chief Says Treatment Cuts The Risk Of Violence
The risk of violent behavior drops 15-fold for people who receive treatment for psychosis as opposed to those who do not, the U.S. mental health chief said Thursday. Thomas Insel, director of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), spoke at a Senate hearing ... He argued for "closing that gap" between the onset of symptoms, diagnosis and treatment (Viebeck, 1/24).

Also --

The Associated Press: Begich Proposed Bill To Improve Mental Health Care
Sen. Mark Begich is co-sponsoring legislation aimed at improving mental health care in this country. The proposal is an expansion on a measure that Begich proposed last year to improve mental health services on college campuses but that died with the last Congress. The new plan has drawn bipartisan support, which Begich said should help the measure gain traction (Bohrer, 1/24).

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