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House Passes Bipartisan Mental Health Reform Act

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The U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.

U.S. Senator Chris Murphy is praising House passage on Wednesday night of the bipartisan Mental Health Reform Act. 

Murphy co-authored the bill with Republican Bill Cassidy of Louisiana.

It includes emergency funding to address the opioid and heroin crisis. It also includes more investment in medical research. A fact sheet on the bill is available on WNPR.org.

Murphy spoke Wednesday on the floor before the vote.

"For as much back-patting as we've done for ourselves in the last 50 years, because of our decision to close mental institutions all across the country, [we've] essentially just recreated these institutions all over again," Murphy said. "They're now called prisons."

Murphy cited reporting by The Boston Globe's Spotlight team that found some inmates in Massachusetts were harming themselves as a way to try to get mental health care behind bars.

Murphy acknowledged that the bill doesn’t solve a myriad of problems facing people with mental illness.

"But it does require insurance companies to stop discriminating against people with mental illness, by rejecting claims for mental health at a rate that is much higher than they do for physical health," he said.

Watch Murphy talk about the bill in the C-SPAN video below.

The Senate is expected to vote on the bill next week.

Heather Brandon contributed to this report.

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