Congressman Leonard Lance

Representing the 7th District of New Jersey

Lance Mental Health Bill Passes House

Jul 6, 2016
Press Release
Years-long Effort Gets Near Unanimous Support

WASHINGTON, D.C. --- Congressman Leonard Lance (NJ-07) and his Energy and Commerce Committee colleagues secured a major legislative victory on Wednesday when the U.S. House of Representatives passed landmark reforms to the country’s mental health care system in an overwhelming vote of 422-2.  The Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act (H.R. 2646) now moves to the U.S. Senate for consideration.

In remarks during debate on the legislation, Lance recalled how since 2013 he and the original sponsors “called on Congress to address a mental health care system in crisis; a system where millions of Americans suffer every year and are all too often pushed into the shadows by archaic regulations and an outdated federal bureaucracy.  

“Two-and-one-half years later I am proud that the House stands poised today to pass the most significant reform to our Nation's mental health programs in decades.  This bill also includes provisions I championed to help provide early detection to eating disorders and improve access to treatment coverage.  This is a historic achievement as it marks the first time Congress has addressed eating disorders specifically through legislation.”

Lance joined Congressman and psychologist Tim Murphy (PA-18) in crafting the bill.  The measure builds on reforms included in Lance’s 2014 legislation that put community mental health centers on more equal footing with other health centers by improving quality standards and expanding access.  H.R. 2646 also boosts resources and psychiatric care for patients and families by increasing inpatient and outpatient treatment options. It also updates legal framework to help families and physicians make informed decisions by viewing those who need care through the mental health lens, not just through the criminal justice system.  The legislation also includes Lance-championed provisions from the Anna Westin Act which will help to train health professionals and school personnel to identify eating disorders and improve access to eating disorders treatment coverage.