(WASHINGTON, DC) – On Wednesday, July 30th at 3PM, Congressman Tim Murphy, author of the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act (H.R. 3717), and Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, a cosponsor of H.R. 3717, will lead an important congressional briefing on how a quirk in Medicaid billing policy, known as the “IMD Exclusion,” has resulted in higher rates of homelessness amongst the mentally ill.

The panel will be moderated by Doris Fuller, the Executive Director of the Treatment Advocacy Center, and will feature experts from the mental health field testifying on how the “Institutions of Mental Disease” exclusion causes very sick individuals to go without needed medical attention, and what Congress can do to ensure patients receive the highest quality of care. The Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act fixes the IMD exclusion so Medicaid beneficiaries can access inpatient psychiatric care.

On the House floor today, Congressman Murphy urged his colleagues to enact H.R. 3717 and reject the fear-mongering of anti-psychiatrist activists that have blocked help for mentally ill individuals, who lack the capacity to recognize their illness much like stroke victims and those with Alzheimer’s Disease,.

“Some activists are more comfortable allowing the mentally ill to live under bridges or behind dumpsters then in a psychiatric bed because they cling to their fears of the old asylum system as if medical science and our understanding of the brain had not advance over the last 60 years,” said Murphy. Watch the full speech here.

Some individuals experiencing serious mental illness may require temporary hospitalization before the proper medication, at the right dosage, is found and they are fully stabilized. However, Medicaid will not reimburse for inpatient medical care at a psychiatric hospital for anyone between the ages of 22 and 64. This “IMD Exclusion” was the catalyst for “deinstitutionalization” and has resulted in a critical shortage of inpatient treatment options for individuals experiencing a serious mental illness. Seventy years ago there were 550,000 inpatient psychiatric beds. Even as the country’s population has doubled, there are now fewer than 40,000 inpatient psychiatric beds. This antiquated policy has left hundreds of thousands of mentally ill Americans living on the streets, with hundreds of thousands more in emergency rooms, prisons, and jails.

Watch the briefing on YouTube by clicking HERE