Mental health reform bill signed by President Obama - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Mental health reform bill signed by President Obama

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President Obama signed the 21st Century Cures Act into law on Tuesday (WFSB) President Obama signed the 21st Century Cures Act into law on Tuesday (WFSB)

President Barack Obama and many families are calling the 21st Century Cures Act, which was signed into law on Tuesday, something to celebrate.

The legislation passed with bi-partisan support, and provides billions of dollars to help those with drug addiction, cancer and mental illness.

In Connecticut, those who pushed for the bill said it’s the most important effort in a generation.

"This is personal to me,” said Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT).

For him, mental illness has been a major focus, after he has spent many hours with Newtown families following the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

The signing of this bill comes at an emotional time, as Dec. 14 is remembered as the day when 26 children and adults were killed in Connecticut. 

The gunman, Adam Lanza, was a young man who struggled with mental illness.

Just days before leaving office, Obama signed the legislation which will provide more treatment.

"(This) takes steps making sure mental health and substance abuse are treated fairly by insurance companies, and reauthorizes meaningful help for suicide prevention,” Obama said during a press release.

The legislation under the 21st Century Cures Act forces insurance companies to pay more, and creates a new assistant secretary and more money for prevention.

The bill also includes $6 billion for opioid addiction.

Parents like David and Kate Grub, whose daughter died from pain killers, say the bill will help give families more access by creating more treatment centers. There is also money for cancer research.

"We have to break down barriers to getting good care, and we have to recognize that people get better care in their communities, not hospitals,” said Cathy Flaherty, of CT Legal Rights Project.

The bill also helps build the psychiatric workforce in treating children. There is a shortage of psychiatrists, and a huge need to work with children at an early age.

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