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Murphy Bill is DBA (dead before arrival)



The death of the Murphy Bill: On being the national spokesman
Larry Drain

The Murphy Bill as we know is dead.  The Republican leadership in the House announced a change in strategy.  They basically decided to toss in the towel on the more controversial parts of the plan and try to see if they can move forward on elements that seem to have a greater consensus behind them. There may be CPR efforts yet but it appears done.

It was a bill in trouble from the start despite the massive pr campaign that tried so hard to say it wasnt so.  It managed to unify groups that might not agree on what kind of reforms they wanted, but were absolutely sure what they didnt want and that was the Murphy Bill.

Part of the problem was Murphy himself.  He assumed that as "the only psychologist in Congress" he was the obvious and deserved national spokesman for mental health reform.  He wasnt.  Being a psychologist certainly didnt qualify for the role.  Neither did being a member of the House of Representatives.  It seemed that Dr. Torrey annointed him and for some reason they both thought that mattered.  In the end it was hard to know where he started and Dr. Torrey ended and that was perhaps a fatal flaw.

He didnt understand that leadership was built or that it was a two way street.  He alienated people who had lived mental health reform their entire adult lives.  He thought it was about them joining him and never seemed to know it was the other way around.  And he never realized that trust was everything and that when he snuck AOT into the medicare bill he destroyed his chances of trust with people whose support he needed.

He was naive.  The only people who believe federal laws change everything are federal lawmakers and most of them know better.  To say that his law was going to prevent the next shooting was simply ego.  He believed his own press clippings and his posturing before the dead were even buried just seemed like rank opportunism.

Mental health reform is an ongoing effort by many, many people with different values and priorities.  Sometimes it is its own worst enemy.  People who cant stand each other have a hard time standing together for anything.  Murphy I hope has to some degree taught people they can find unity despite their differences.  And maybe the fragile unity borne of him will be the biggest take-away from the entire thing.

He may indeed try again.  He probably will.  Dr.  Torrey most surely will.  He has won many, many short term victories and will doubtless win more, but the big prize has eluded him again. He is not the national spokesman he has annointed himself to be either.


The Murphy Bill . . . the bottom lines




The Murphy bottom lines

by hopeworkscommunity

When you strip away all the fancy words and the tons and tons of rhettoric about what the Murphy Bill says and simply ask yourself "What is the plan?" you get a few core ideas.  What does Rep. Murphy think we actually need to do to serve the severely mentally ill?    There are many other provisions of the bill that has nothing to do with what I am about to talk about. Many of them are the most positive features of the bill.  But this is what I think the essence of the Murphy plan is.  These are his bottom lines.  These are his "new ideas."

He believes, in effect, that many of the severely mentally ill suffer from a defiency of psychiatric hospitalization.  He seems to see that as the answer to so many people with "mental illness" being in jails and prisons.  He thinks that way too many hospital beds are gone and it is time to increase hospitalization radically.

 Perhaps I am wrong but I believe that ship has sailed.  A mental health system with psychiatric hospitalization as its corner stone is not financially sustainable in this country.  Insurance companies pay less and less for it.  They do not see it as medically necessary but in the most extreme circumstances and then for brief periods of time.  In Tennessee I believe most psychiatric hospitals are struggling to break even and most of them are losing that struggle.   States are getting out of the business.  They realize that a large hospital system leaves them unable to finance a community system and if you dont have a community system to serve the people coming out of the hospital what is the point of the hospital.  If you look at how often and how quickly people leaving the hospital system end up back there you begin to realize the impact of disemboweling the community system.  I cant even imagine the circumstances under which Tennessee would act to increase the beds in any kind of dramatic way, indeed in any way at all.   It is far too little bang for way too many bucks.  

His method for making psychiatric hospitalization possible is to remove the IMD exclusion on medicaid funding.  Basically it makes it possible for medicaid to then pay for state psychiatric hospitals.  One question comes to me immediately.  If Congressman Murphy thinks that medicaid funding is such an important part of mental health reform why did he vote to repeal the ACA over 50 times?  That bill through its provisions for medicaid expansion would have given millions of people with "mental illness" access to programs and services that if he has his way they will never access.

A couple of other questions come to mind.  What about the people who dont have medicaid access?  Many people with "mental illness" and particularly many people who are having serious problems in life simply dont have insurance.  Another question is the response of states to finding out now that medicaid funds can pay for psychiatric hospitals.  In most states that I am aware the medicaid program eats up a considerable portion of their state budget and I really question, particularly in the states that choose not to expand medicaid, how receptive they will be to finding out that medicaid expenses are about to soar through the roof.  In Tennessee the most likely two responses are to adopt the private insurance definitions of medical necessity and decide not that many people need hospitalizations and/or cut benefits and provider payments to pay for any any expenses the increase in hospitalization is likely to cause.  The provider rates for psychiatric care, at least in Tennessee, are so low that very few people will even provide services anyway and there is a serious real question about where the professionals to do all this treatment are to come from.

Even if you start to use medicaid funding it does not begin to pay for all the new costs.  The state institutions in Tennessee for example are aging. There is a need for new buildings and new spaces if beds are added.  Who pays for new hospitals??  What about the cost of new staff??  Who pays?  I can only speak to Tennessee but there is no commitment to psychiatric hospitalization, especially on a massive scale, as the answer to anything by state officials, by mental health professionals. by anyone that I know and removing the IMD exclusion is unlikely to change that.  The strong perception is that the community system is the most cost effective and effective means to help people meet their needs and that it is defiencies in that system that lead most to people falling through the cracks.

And even if it was possible would it work?? I know of no evidence, that other than providing a place for stabilization, that psychiatric hospitals work in any enduring fashion. They dont, if you look at return rates, even work well enough to keep people out of psychiatric hospitals.

I dont know but would be willing to hazard a guess that many of the "mentally ill" in the prisons and jails have had considerable psychiatric experience with little or no solid gains. Criminal behavior is not a symptom of mental illness and the "put them in the hospital" solution ignores things like poverty, drug addiction, racism, lack of work, homelessness and history of trauma and other adverse events that lead to someone actually committing criminal acts. The other thing to consider is not the degree to which "mental illness" causes criminal behavior but the extent to which incarceration causes "mental illness." Is treatment needed?? Are mental health resources needed and might for some people those resources be inpatient resources??? Of course. I wonder what percent of those people in jail would even meet the criteria for hospitalization?? I dont know the answers but tend to believe it is the lack of effective and accessible community resources that engender emotional involvement with the people they serve that is the root of the great numbers of "mentally ill" in jails and prisons.

Another core point of Murphy is that he believes that too many people get mental health services and that it is the "worried well " that are basically stealing resources that are better used by the severely mentally ill. Given the fact that most mental health systems have been starved and cut back over the last few years it seems a little like telling one person eating bread and water that the the person next to him is eating too much bread and water and not considering that the problem is the diet of bread and water. It is an argument of little integrity that resorts to an us vs. them argument as a pseudo explanation. It ignores totally the fact that state legislature after state legislature has sacrificed their mental health system on the fires of "financial responsibility" over the last few years.

There are without question people who are victims of a psychiatric system eager to diagnose every event in life as an enotional illness. There is a reason that pharmaceutical companies make money. But there are also people who struggle every day with serious mental health issues, trauma, and distress and to dismiss those people as dupes or malingers is stupid, dishonest and evil. If you think the biggest problem in the mental health system is that too many people need or are seeking help then you are a simple minded person not worthy of being taken seriously.

If you take the notion of "worried well" seriously it takes you to some strange places. How do you decide who is "worried well"? Who decides? Based on what criteria? What do you do to the "worried well"? Do you limit their access to services? How? How much and why? If you dont limit their access to services arent you being complicit in the people who need help being hurt?? And how much is all this going to cost?? Do we need programs to make sure that people who need services get them and another program to make sure those that dont are kept out. This is a treacherous notion that if you take serious leads to nightmares.

Another core notion is making assisted outpatient treatment a law in every state. They tell you that aot is a major problem solver but dont really explain why most of the 45 states that have it dont really use it. And they dont really explain why you need to make something a federal law that is already a state law. And they dont really explain why if 45 states can choose to have it 5 states cant.

I think the truth is that most states who are not willing to throw $32 million a year at it like New York find it more irrelevant than anything. It costs too much and does too little and in an environment of increasingly limited resources is not something that a lot of people are going to turn to to solve many things. And none of this even begins to touch on the questions of choice and coercion that so many people find so fundamentally troubling.

Another core notion of the Murphy Bill is that too many people complain about the human rights of people in the system being important and those people need to be quiet. It would basically eviscerate the protection and advocacy programs like Paimi and legislate away their voice. The idea that people in the system dont need protection is naive and self serving and something you might figure a psychologist or psychiatrist might come up with. Ask anybody in the system. See how safe they feel in the system.

The final key element is to do away with the notion of recovery and the best way to do that is to cut the legs out from under Samsha. Samsha is as close to a boogeyman as there is in this play. They are blamed for everything bad that has happened or will happened. The fact that thousands of people have found recovery to be a real thing is explained away by saying they probably didnt need help anyway or that they are in a remission that would have happened anyway regardless of what they did. If you dont like what you see it works really well to convince yourself that it was really something else.

Samsha is blamed for many things it doesnt decide about. The state of Tennessee decides what kind of services it will offer the people it serves....not Samsha.

Like I said at the start there is more to the Murphy Bill than what I have described here. He took a lot of peoples good ideas and made them part of his bill. None of them seem though to be core elements that define the bill and that is a shame. He has told people he will work with them on a better bill but no one knows what that means because he has compromised on nothing. I have been told by a lot of people I know that is bill is in trouble and very unlikely to be passed as written. I dont know how true that is, but know it is in everybodies best interest to know the bottom lines of what he proposes and decide what that means for them and the way they would like to see the mental health system change.

hopeworkscommunity | May 16, 2014


Murphy Bill




Murphy stuck????

by Larry Drain

GOP Newtown bill hits impasse | TheHill
【from Next Browser】

It sounds based on reports like these that the Murphy Bill is not going to pass as written.  Things change I know, but it looks that way.  There is I understand a democratic bill being written by Rep.  Barber.  Things dont seem to look really great.  The really interesting thing is that it might not matter rather or not the Torrey crowd thinks they have made a great case.  It may only matter whether or not they find common ground with people up to now they have shown no interest in finding common ground with.  Rhettoric that they are so good with may not be their friend.  Winning the battle may cause them to lose the war.

The next few weeks, next few months may be interesting.  Common ground.... what a weird approach to American politics.

hopeworkscommunity | April 23, 2014


2013 DBSA Chapter Service Award Winners



I'm sharing the news of my being among national Award Winners for accomplishments over the past year. It has been a pleasure to serve as State Director and local chapter President. And I consider it an honor to be recognized by DBSA national.

I appreciate all the wonderful support I was given by my fellow officers, Board members, and the chapter membership throughout the year. You may view the announcement on the national web site athttp://www.dbsalliance.org/site/PageServer?pagename=peer_chapter_spotlights

                       Congratulations to our 2013 Chapter Service Award Winners!
The DBSA Chapter Service Awards recognize exemplary service by DBSA 
chapters, state organizations, and their leaders. Winners will be honored at the 2014 Chapter Leadership Forum in addition to receiving a cash award.

Steve Brannon of DBSA Jackson (TN) and DBSA Tennessee - Outstanding
Steve is an excellent role model for pursuing a wellness-focused life while living with a mood disorder. He fights stigma by openly sharing his journey in the local newspaper, on DBSA’s website, and on his weekly online newsletter. He has worked with the local police department to help educate and train police officers for crisis response teams. Steve was selected for DBSA Peer Advocacy Training and was a representative of DBSA for Hill Day in Washington, D.C.
At his local chapter, DBSA Jackson (TN), Steve gently encourages, trusts, and believes in support group participants. He instituted a monthly “share your inspiration” night in which group members report on what keeps them going, creating an environment of hope and personal growth. Steve is dedicated to further advancing DBSA’s mission into surrounding communities and across the state. The number of support groups has doubled in the past year under his direction, encompassing all major cities and some smaller cities across the state. He has traveled hundreds of miles at his own expense to conduct local chapter visitations as state director. Steve’s passion for the advancement of DBSA’s mission in Jackson and the state of Tennessee is so strong that he has diligently dedicated his time and resources for over a decade.

DBSA Tennessee - State Organization Service 
DBSA Tennessee's amazing accomplishments made 2013 a rewarding year! 
They supported chapters in their state by hosting educational presentations and training programs, giving them the tools necessary for successful chapters. With help from DBSA Tennessee, five local chapters were interviewed on television or radio to promote DBSA to the community. Leaders encouraged one chapter’s community outreach, resulting in a city-wide Mental Health Day declared by their mayor. DBSA Tennessee’s robust plan to help new chapters in the startup process helped find free meeting locations, assistance in affiliation fees and paperwork, and provided a sponsor from an already established chapter to assist the new chapter.
Five members of DBSA Tennessee attended DBSA’s Peer Advocate Training in Washington, D.C. and then created an advocacy plan for their state including a campaign against proposed budget cuts to close all 45 of Tennessee’s Peer Support Service Centers. DBSA Tennessee is a growing, thriving organization. With its advocacy for peer support and local chapter start-up, community outreach and commitment to peer education, DBSA Tennessee is one of the most energetic affiliates of DBSA.

DBSA Murfreesboro (TN) - Rookie Chapter Service
DBSA Murfreesboro began in July of 2013 with support from DBSA Tennessee. 
The chapter started out with one support group, which saw its attendance 
double in fewer than six months, becoming one of the fastest growing local 
chapters in the state. The growth of the chapter can be attributed to the forces behind it that work tirelessly to get the word out about the group. Flyers and pamphlets are distributed to agencies and health care providers, the Salvation Army, local hospitals and businesses, and more. DBSA Murfreesboro provides post-hospitalization support for those who would otherwise have none. Educational materials, resources, and wellness tools are provided to each chapter participant. They have also started a family and friends support group.

Members of DBSA Murfreesboro participated in the state chapter meetings and backing of their U.S. Representative. For a chapter that achieved all of this in six months, DBSA Murfreesboro has a fine resume of accomplishments, but they consider their greatest success to be the level of support offered to each person who walks through their doors.


A New Speaker Series




Mental health issues topic of presentations

By Linda Braden Albert | [email protected] | Posted 14 hours ago

A series of presentations on mental health issues will begin Thursday at the Blount County Public Library. The first presentation is by Sita Diehl, past executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Tennessee and currently national director of state advocacy for NAMI National.

Larry Drain, recently named president of NAMI Maryville, said, “When they asked me to take the job, I really wanted to figure out a way not only to help NAMI but to help the community. Every day, nowadays, when you read the paper or watch TV or whatever, in one way or another, mental health issues are there. There’s a lot of bad information, misinformation, so the idea I had was that if we could bring a series of people to Maryville to talk about mental health issues, that would be a real, real positive thing for this community.”

Diehl’s current position entails her traveling from state to state, organizing efforts to make outcomes for mental health possible in each state, Drain said. “I’ve known her for years, and she was the very first person I asked. Her topic will be about finding support, whether you’re a family member, whether you’re somebody with a mental illness. She will talk a lot about NAMI, some about the mental health system in Tennessee. There will be a question and answer period after she gets through talking. Anybody who comes will be enriched by her.”

On April 24, Doug Varney, commissioner of mental health and substance abuse services for the state of Tennessee, will speak on mental health and drug addiction. Drain said, “I think he will talk some about prescription drugs and meth, what the state is trying to do to deal with some of these things. Especially in Blount County, it is such a live issue. ... He knows the topic inside out.”

Additional speakers in upcoming months include Ben Harrington, executive director, East Tennessee Mental Health Association; Scott Ridgeway, director, Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network; Allen Doderlain, national president, Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance; Pam Binkley, recovery coordinator, Optum Health, who will talk about emotional first aid; Lisa Ragan, director, Office of Consumer Affairs, Tennessee Department of Mental Health, who will speak on peer support, recovery, etc.; and Elizabeth Power, a nationally known expert on post-traumatic stress disorder. Mental health professionals from Blount Memorial Hospital have also been invited to speak.

Drain said, “I think this will be a quality addition to the Maryville community and I hope lots of folks will come. ... For a lot of folks here, the whole area of mental health, mental health treatment, the resources involved and things like that are so confusing. My hope is that all these speakers can shed some light, bring some facts and really help people in the Blount County area.”

Larry Drain, hopeworkscommunity


Medicare rule changes adversely affect our seniors




Medicare Rule Changes May Restrict Drug Choices for Seniors
(from Easy Browser)

The CMS decisions about which drugs to protect were supposed to be based on whether the drugs were needed to prevent increased doctor visits, hospitalizations, persistent disability, incapacitation or death that would otherwise occur within seven days if the drugs were not given. The choices about which drugs to remove from protection fail that test because, with acute mental illness, seven days without medication could easily lead to hospitalization, incapacitation or death. The same constraint exists for some 500,000 transplant patients. Seven days without the right medication could result in transplant rejection.

The quote above is from the article linked.  My jaw dropped when I read it.  CMS is proposing to drop certain drug classes from the status of protected medication.  The idea is to save money.  The article says it may save around 10% I believe.

My jaw dropped when I read the criteria.  It basically says that if doing without a drug for 7 days wont kill you, incapacitate, or put you in the hospital you really didnt need it to the point where your access to the medication is guaranteed to begin with.


Is it just me or does this not sound simply stupid, simply arbitrary and simply mean?  How in the world do you decide as a matter of cost containment that if someone doesnt die fast enough that dont really need a medication?  Who should have that kind of power??  Should anyone??

I read all the stuff about percents...percents of cost...percents of savings.  There is another "p" word-- PEOPLE.  Somehow it seems like it got lost.







Join Us in the Fight to Save Access to Mental Health Treatment: Act Now by Telling Congress You Care!

Posted on January 28, 2014


The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) wants to significantly limit access to antidepressant and immunosupressant medication for people subscribing to Medicare Part D. Read today’s post to learn why you should be concerned, and what you can do to support the mental health community by raising our voices in Washington.

Earlier this month, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced a proposed rule that would remove antidepressants and immunosupressants from the protected class status under Medicare Part D and is considering removing antipsychotics from the same status the following year. If CMS adopts its proposal, it would reduce patient access to and the availability of mental health treatment.

Since it went into effect in 2006, Medicare Part D’s protected class structure ensures patients with mental health conditions have access to all or substantially all of the most appropriate medications, protecting them from “fail-first”1 experiences or other appeals processes. In many cases, delays caused by these processes can result in inadequate treatment and potentially tragic outcomes.

We need to ensure that all mental health patients have access to all the medications that they need. It is clear that CMS’ rule will signal a step in the wrong direction and the consequences will be detrimental. According to the World Health Organization, depression is currently the leading cause of disability worldwide. By 2030, it will be the leading global burden of disease.2 In the United States alone, the total direct and indirect cost associated with depression exceeds $83 billion annually.3

Ultimately if CMS’ rule is approved, there will be severe human, economic and societal consequences for not only mental health patients, but for all Americans. We must take action now.

Here’s How You Can Take Action Today

Now, more than ever, the mental health community of patients, families, friends and others need to join together to tell CMS and the Administration how big of a mistake implementing this rule will be for all Americans. Below you’ll find several ways in which you can make your voice heard during CMS’ open comment period, ending March 7,to protect antidepressants, immunosupressants and antipsychotics within Medicare Part D. The clock is ticking!

  1. Make Your Voice Heard by writing to your Member of Congress. Use the sample email letter to inform your member of Congress that the implementation of this proposed rule is a big mistake. Be sure to share any personal experiences and how this rule will impact you or a loved one.
  2. Share your personal stories: The Care For Your Mind blog is interested in your personal stories to help share the extent of the issue and how it will impact you or a loved one. While this rule is expected to decrease patient costs for medications, members of the mental health community understand the treatment for our conditions is far from one size fits all. Below are a few questions that may help you shape and share your story:
    a. What will happen if you lose access to your medications?
    b. Have you had a negative experience with “fail-first” experiences?
    c. How will the new rule impact you, your parents, other family members or friends?
  3. We encourage you to submit your personal story here for publication on our website. And in the meantime, join our conversation online by contributing to this blog below. Your voice counts and the time to speak up is now!
  4. Share this information with others:  Knowledge is power. The more people know about the proposed rule’s real life consequences, the more we can make our voices heard. Share this post and relevant information with your friends and family, on your social media accounts, through email and word of mouth offline.Together, we can send a powerful message and help ensure that patients have access to the medications they need and deserve.

At Care For Your Mind, we understand that your personal experience and ideas can help build a mental health care system that works.

1 Fail first refers to the practice of forcing doctors to prescribe the least costly drug in any class to patients first, even if the physician wants to begin treatment with a different medication.

2 World Health Organization. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs369/en/

3 Greenberg, et al.(2003).The economic burden of depression in the United States: How did it change between 1990 and 2000? Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 64, pp. 1465-1475


Can you find me?  Mental Health Day '13



BIG Thank You to everyone for a very successful Hill Day.  Over 700 people attended the event this year – 25 of them representing DBSA.   See if you can find yourself in this fantastic picture!

This was DBSA’s first year partnering with the National Council for Behavioral Health and we certainly made our presence known.  Our goal was to make sure the Peer voice was heard.  And heard it was!  We received recognition at the closing reception as the state and/or organization with the most peers in attendance.  And we were listed among the top ten tweeters for the event.

 Give yourself a big pat on the back, soak your tired feet, but don’t rest on your laurels, because this is just the beginning.  Look for e-mails from me in the very near future outlining how you can grow your advocacy efforts on the local, state and national level.

I am honored and proud to be part of such a dedicated and enthusiastic group of people.  Let’s keep the momentum going.

 Phyllis Foxworth
Advocacy and Communications Manager
Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance