Pennsylvania Republican Tim Murphy is the principle author. His work on the bill began after the 2012 shootings at Sandy Hook - Murphy is a clinical psychologist.
There is no ambiguity about Murphy's position on the issue. He told the New York Times: "It’s a broken system, and we’re not going to fix it by throwing a little money here or there.”
The effort is serious and the individual initiatives in the bill are well-researched. One provision would strip funding from Federal substance abuse programs - those that have shown no evidence of their worth. Another recognizes that police and emergency crews are routinely the first providers in psychiatric crises, and that they need training too.
The controversial element in the bill concerns proposals to expand "assisted outpatient programs." The assistance referred to is mostly in the form of involuntary medication. It is about something that happens everyday in every community in America: a parent cannot get help for an adult child who is on a clear path towards a psychiatric tragedy of some sort.
The Civil Rights arguments surrounding this one provision (among two dozen) will probably garner the most attention and should present the only opposition to this necessary legislation. The Civil Rights issue is complex, but not so much so when looked at in the glare of a tragic outcome.
The NY Times article (Mental Health Groups Split on Bill to Overhaul Care) says that the measure has support from both sides of the aisle in Congress.
Copyright, Paul G. Mattiuzzi, Ph.D.