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Congressman Tony Cardenas

Representing the 29th District of California

Cárdenas Protects Mental Health Of Children

Nov 5, 2015
Press Release
The debate over a Republican mental health bill in House Energy and Commerce Committee included a change made by U.S. Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D-San Fernando Valley, Calif.) to ensure that if the bill becomes law, it will create a lifeline for children, suffering from mental illness, who are released from juvenile detention.

Cárdenas Protects Mental Health Of Children

 

(Washington, D.C.) – The debate over a Republican mental health bill in House Energy and Commerce Committee included a change made by U.S. Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D-San Fernando Valley, Calif.) to ensure that if the bill becomes law, it will create a lifeline for children, suffering from mental illness, who are released from juvenile detention.

Cárdenas’ amendment to H.R. 2646, the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act, stops states from terminating Medicaid coverage while a child is in custody. States are also be required to ensure that an eligible child is enrolled in Medicaid once released from the juvenile justice system. This will allow juveniles to remain covered throughout their time in the juvenile justice system and immediately afterwards, allowing better mental health outcomes immediately following release.

“We know the vast majority of kids in jail have at least one form of mental illness,” said Cárdenas. “Very few kids go to jail and come out to rich parents who can immediately pay for counselling that will help with those illnesses. If they don’t get that help, they lose a chance to live as productive a life, after they have paid their debt to society. Kids brains’ are different from adults’ brains. Their behaviors are easier to change, their brain chemistry is easier to alter with treatment. We owe it to these kids to give them a chance to get better but, more importantly, we owe it to ourselves to be the America we all know and love, where second chances are always possible.”

The Cárdenas amendment was adopted by a vote of 14-13, with Republicans crossing party lines to help pass it.

The amendment is Cárdenas’ second successful reach across the aisle in the past few months. Earlier this year, he joined U.S. Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-Kent.) to pass the PACE Act, adjusting the small business definition in the Affordable Care Act to save employees throughout the nation millions of dollars in insurance premiums.

The amendment process for H.R. 2646 is continuing throughout Wednesday evening. Democrats are opposed to the bill, which they say endangers the civil rights of patients, ends important federal drug treatment programs and allows Americans to be committed to mental health treatment by friends and relatives far too easily. H.R. 2646 was authored by U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Penn.).

 

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