Barack Obama signed into law the 21st Century Cures Act last year on December the 13th. This act contains major provisions of the Mental Health Reform Act of 2016, the Senate Mental Health Compromise Bill, and the Helping Families in Mental Crises Act of 2016.
The 21st Century Cures Act intends to fix a number of components of mental health system in the US. In this article, we will highlight some of the major changes that were brought about by the mental health law signed by the outgoing president.
Highlights of the 12st Century Cures Act
The latest Cures Act has created new posts of Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use and Chief Medical Officer. The posts were created to increase the influence of federal authority and strengthen the mental health leadership in the US.
In addition, the Act authorized the establishment of a committee consisting of 23 individuals that will provide a summary of medical advancements in the treatment, prevention, and diagnosis of mental health disorders.
A major provision of the Cures Act is the compliance requirements for mental health insurers to make sure that they don’t limit people’s access to latest treatments for mental health disorders. The new law will discourage insurers to pay low rates to mental health care professionals due to which they don’t take certain kinds of health insurance.
The Cures Act also mandates states in the US to allocate at least 10 percent of the annual grants for funding of early intervention programs. The programs provide a team of specialized mental health professionals that offer education, medication, psychotherapy, and support for the families of the suffering patients. Also, the program intends to make mental health sufferers stay in the job for a longer time and become more involved in their communal activities as compared to those receiving standard health care. New grants will also be provided for assertive community treatment (ACT) programs that can help people suffering from mental health problems to live independently without any government support.
Previously, people that were covered by Medicaid were not allowed to see a mental health care professional and a primary health care physician on the same day. The glitch was caused due to the ways in which the bill was written. This resulted in inconvenience to the patients in that they had to schedule the services on different days despite both the health care professionals located in the same building. The new law has fixed the glitch allowing patients to see multiple health care professionals on the same day.
The 21st Century Cures Act that was authorized by Barack Obama has made a number of changes. The changes will greatly help in fixing a number of small issues in the national mental health system. However, the Act does not do much to reduce the bridge between mental and physical health care that is provided by primary care physicians.
The bill also does not contain any provisions for millions of poor Americans that receive the treatment through outpatient care. In contrast, the focus of the bill is on resolving issues of a specific group of people with certain issues such as those that are incarcerated, homeless, or show suicidal behavior or psychosis. In short, the Act is another band-aid that seems to alleviate immediate issues without addressing major problems in the national mental health system.