Rep. Reed & Mental Health–Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Three days after the Charleston Church slayings, Rep. Tom Reed held town hall meetings improve-mental-health-care-for-its-own-sake-a-L-wjgROx-175x130in Ithaca, Geneva, and Branchport (Town of Jerusalem in Yates County).

In Geneva, Reed spoke briefly on the shootings when he was asked the following question:

Mental Illness is a topic that is under the surface in numerous issues—Social Security Disabilities, Gun Violence and Affordable Care Act to name a few. Two and a half years ago you pointed out that Mental Illness was a big factor of the Sandy Hook shootings. The Charleston shooter’s lawyer will probably use Mental Illness as a defense. What has congress done to support the Mental Illness medical community?

His answer:

“I wholeheartedly  agree on the mental health priority. We have been working with Dr. Tim Murphy, psychologist in Congress representing Pennsylvania. He has made mental health treatment as a priority and we are going to try to push that forward as we go. As we deal with health care reform as we will have to deal with shortly, we are going to make sure those kids get the level of attention they need.”

He then went into the Charleston event—called it “”Horrific!” and  pointed out that  “When these things happen they run to gun control, they run to guns.”  He reminded us that he believes in the second amendment.

“Ninty-nine percent of them have a common denominator. It’s the mental health component of the individual behind the weapon.   Where can we find common ground to improve mental health, make sure that those who are mentally ill do not get weapons and I’m open to that kind of conversation.”

It was pointed out that two and a half years is a long time and it seems that nothing has been accomplished: His response:

“We are doing our part by supporting mental health treatment and mental health reforms that Dr. Murphy has put together and we need to push it. But how do we rein that into a system that is very hesitate to take on health care? D.C. as a system, when youy talk to people who are more motivated by politics don’t want to talk about health care because it is so much a taboo political issue. Look what happened in 2010, everybody lost their seat da..ba..da. I’ve had those conversations as I say to them ‘That’s not acceptable.’ “

Rep. Dr. Tim Murphy has been a great advocate for supporting and strengthening our Mental Health system. In December of 2013, he introduced “Family Health Care Accessibility Act of 2013” (HR 3717), legislation that seeks to make the most sweeping change in the system in more than two decades. The bill had 115 co-sponsors, with Rep. Reed being Number 111, eleven months after Rep. Murphy introduced it and only a few weeks before the end of the legislation session. At that point the bill was held up in committees, and Rep. Reed knew it had no chance of getting on the floor for a vote. Co-sponsoring a mental health bill, that wouldn’t pass,  would make Reed look good.

Rep. Murphy revised the Family Health Care Accessibility Act this year and reintroduced it, this time as HR 2646. Reed has not co-sponsored it yet. For an CNN video and article about the 2013 bill follow this link.

Rep. Murphy’s bills increase funding for programs, and Mental Health doesn’t bring a profit to corporations that donate to Rep. Reed’s re-election campaign. Rep. Reed doesn’t like to spend taxpayers’ money on issues that does not benefit him directly.

Remember Rep Reed’s quote: “We are doing our part by supporting mental health treatment and mental health reforms that Dr. Murphy has put together.” At the Town Hall Meeting I assumed the “We” referred to Rep. Reed and his staff. I now wonder “How” Rep. Reed is working with Rep. Ryan if he is not co-sponsoring his proposed legislation.

Checking this year’s  other 72 bills (as of July 5, 2015) which contains Mental Health provisions–Rep. Reed co-sponsored only two of them:

Social Impact Partnership Act (H.R. 1336)–which requires accountability (measurable, clearly defined outcomes that result in social benefit) of block grants to Social Security part C Social Services programs. And…

James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Reauthorization Act (HR 1786)- Which reauthorizes and extent certain portions of the Public Health  Service Act to 9/11 survivors and families of 9/11 victims.

Look at the Mental Health legislation that Rep. Reed didn’t co-sponsor: He once said that “When it comes to Veteran spending, just as long we are clear as to where I come down–I am committed to the Veterans 100%”. (Bath Town Hall, November 16, 2013 @ Bath NY). Reed had the opportunity to co-sponsor 21 Veteran related Mental Health bills. He co-sponsored none.

In Geneva Rep Reed mentions, “we are going to make sure those kids get the level of attention they need.” Reed had the opportunity to co-sponsor 11 mental health bills that contained the terms “Kids” or “Children” or “Youth” or”Families”. He co-sponsored none.

I know that not co-sponsoring a bill doesn’t mean that you are against it. Co-sponsoring a bill gives it a little more power and prestige as it goes through the legislative process. It also indicates that you really support that bill and you want your colleagues and constituents know that you support it. At the Geneva meeting Rep. Reed made it sound like he was actively working on Mental Health Legislation. If  he  was serious about Mental Health being a priority one would expect more participation in drafting and promoting pro-Mental Health legislation.

Please note that none of the 72 bills researched for this article have been vote on yet. They are working their way through the committee process. Matter of fact in 2014 the House considered 161 pieces of legislation containing provisions on Mental Health, and four made it through committees and were voted on.  They all passed.

If Rep. Reed really believes that helping those with Mental Health problems would reduce gun violence, he would be more active in passing meaningful legislation. He talks the talk, but doesn’t walk the walk.

Rep. Reed tells us what he wasn’t us to think.

This video contains Rep. Tom Reed’s discussion on Mental Health and Gun Violence at the Geneva Town Hall Meeting, June 20, 2105.

Please note: Rep. Reed did co-sponsor the Rep. Murphy’s bill H.R. 2646 on September 11, 2015.

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About pystew

Retired Teacher, political science geek, village trustee. I lean a little left, but like a good political discussion. My blog, the New NY 23rd (http://newny23rd) is about discussing the issues facing the people of our new congressional district. Let's hear all sides of the issues, not just what the candidates want us to hear.
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3 Responses to Rep. Reed & Mental Health–Actions Speak Louder Than Words

  1. Deb Meeker says:

    Rep. Reed never fails to use lip service rather than real service. He could lose a great deal of his base if he sided with sane gun law legislation – we get it – but to continue to be missing in action on the very issues he says are crucial to preventing more gun massacres, is negligence of a high order.

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  2. whungerford says:

    Asked about mental health, Reed says the conversation always turns to guns. That might well be true; while Reed is in denial, too many guns is a problem. Reed mentions the Second Amendment which is irrelevant–it doesn’t preclude many reforms.

    Reed decries class war, which he implies reflects political differences. That’s wrong. The basis of class conflict is social class, the struggle of workers for a fair share of the nations wealth.

    Reed attacks DC, saying politicians refuse to discuss health care out of fear for their jobs. That’s wrong too. Health care isn’t much discussed because Reed and his fellow Republicans don’t want reform; they can’t agree on a proposal; they prefer to use Obamacare as a political punching bag.

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  3. Anne says:

    While it’s probably true that no one possessed of good mental health would decide to go commit mass murder, the other fact of the gun debate is that the Charleston shooter (as was Timothy McVeigh, as was the Unabomber, we could go on) was also someone with a political agenda–homegrown white boy terrorism. All the mental health money in the world isn’t going to change that, and that’s a problem that won’t get better until people are willing to recognize it for what it is. Meanwhile, Reed (whose personal cynicism seems to be a bottomless well) is probably banking on the mentally ill *not* being a population likely to be able to band together in numbers large enough to cause him any anxiety come election time. He goes merrily on, screwing over those without a voice or, in his case, deep pockets, which is the only voice he listens to. It is baffling that anyone at all falls for his schtick, let alone in numbers large enough to have sent him back to office.

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