Changes proposed to mental health system

WASHINGTON – Legislation to study mental health services and identify problems and gaps was proposed by Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va.

HR 1615, the Examining Mental Health Services Act of 2013, would direct the Institute of Medicine to study mental health services in the the United States and identify gaps and problematic areas, including treatment services, McKinley said.

“The mental health system in our country is failing many Americans,” McKinley said. “With the recent violent acts perpetuated by individuals suffering from mental illness, it is becoming ever more apparent that Americans struggling with mental illness are falling through the cracks.”

For those reasons McKinley said he and Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio, believe the legislation is urgent.

“This legislation will help to identify the large gaps in mental health services that exist today,” Kaptur said. “We must begin to break down barriers in this field and reach individuals with severe mental illness who need our help most.”

Another concern among veterans and servicemen is the treatment of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, McKinley said.

“This country needs to bring mental health to the forefront of the discussion in order to prevent violent behavior and address the accessibility and gaps in services for people with mental health issues,” McKinley said.

The Institute of Medicine will have one year to conduct this study and submit the conclusions to Congress.

In other legislative news, Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., in a speech from the House floor, asked representatives to support an energy strategy that includes the broad use of coal.

Coal is America’s most abundant natural resource, Rahall said.

“This nation must acknowledge the simple fact that coal has been, and, for the foreseeable future, must continue to be, part of a comprehensive national energy strategy that will enable us to grow our economy, remain strong militarily, and help to influence the environmental and economic challenges around the globe,” Rahall said.

“Our nation must embrace an energy strategy that encompasses a broad range of fuel choices, including domestic coal, if we are ever to have any hope of completely freeing ourselves from our over dependence on foreign fuels,” Rahall said in his speech.

McKinley also introduced a bill to restore funding for the 149 Federal Aviation Administration contract towers. Facilities at Wheeling, Lewisburg and the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Airport are among the 149.

The Air Traffic Control Tower Funding Restoration Act, HR.1432, prevents the closures that were delayed a month until June by the FAA.

McKinley called it a political decision.

“The Obama administration is putting millions of Americans at risk to make a political point rather than finding waste and duplication to cut at the FAA,” he said.