News from Representative Tim Murphy

In This Week's Edition of E-News...

Murphy Condemns Congress For Failing to Act on His Crisis Mental Health Bill
New Teachers Welcomed At Peters Township Luncheon
Historic Jeannette Plant Now Cutting-Edge Recycler
Murphy Visits Tri County Patriots For Independent Living
Report: VA Failing to Hire Mental Health Professionals

Murphy Condemns Congress For Failing to Act on His Crisis Mental Health Bill 

Click here to watch Rep. Tim Murphy on with KDKA
            condemning Congress stalling H.R. 2646
While conducting an early live television interview in Roanoke, Virginia on Wednesday morning, WDBJ7-TV journalists Alison Parker, 24, and Adam Ward, 27, were horrifically shot and killed as viewers watched live from their homes.

The perpetrator, Vester Flanagan, was a former employee of the television station who went by the name Bryce Williams.

The station’s general manager said coworkers described Flanagan as a safety concern, displaying aggressive and inappropriate workplace behaviors. So much so that he was asked to not only leave the station but was encouraged to seek help. Like so many with serious mental illness, Flanagan did not voluntarily seek care and authorities had to physically remove him from the building. Following the shooting, authorities found Flanagan with a self-inflicted wound. Inside his car, police recovered numerous handwritten notes and letters, three license plates, a wig, a shawl, umbrella and sunglasses.

While on the run, Flanagan posted a video of the shooting to his Twitter account, and sent a 23-page fax to ABC News. The letter included parts labeled suicide notes, and his admiration for the Columbine High School and Virginia Tech killers.

Congressman Murphy expressed his frustration with Congress for failing to make mental health a priority. His legislation, the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act, delivers treatment to those with serious mental illness before tragedy. 

“All the signs pointed to serious mental illness, but there was no framework in place to prevent it from reaching this moment of tragedy,” Murphy, a clinical psychologist by training, told Politico PULSE. “How many more people will die before Congress takes action? We are clearly dealing with the aftermath of a failed mental health system. I’m calling on leadership to advance my Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act as soon as we get back in September.” 

Murphy has made several attempts to get his legislation through the House Energy and Commerce Committee, but it’s been blocked by a small but active group in Congress that have attempted to politicize the negotiations around gun control; many of whom do not support medical treatment for those with serious mental illness. 

“This is extremely frustrating,” said Congressman Tim Murphy to KDKA’s John Shumway, “and at this point I have to put part of the blame on Congress for inaction. Putting this off and hoping it would go away just means we are enabling this type of problem to continue. People with serious mental health issues need serious mental help.”

The legislation focuses on early intervention and prevention, fixing the broken HIPAA privacy rule, increasing the number of psychiatric beds and providers, and funding assisted outpatient treatment programs.

Two days after the tragedy, the Washington Times Editorial Board published a resounding endorsement for the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act, writing any further delay by Congress to take action on the legislation “is crazy.”

“Mr. Murphy argues that the fault is not because the government doesn’t spend enough money but that it spends money on the wrong things,” writes the Editorial Board. “Attention goes to those having a bad day rather diagnosing and treating those who need the help. These people live on the street and they’re in and out of jail, posing a threat to themselves, their families and others.”

H.R. 2646 currently stands at 105 cosponsors, and has gained endorsements from national organizations including the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Treatment Advocacy Center, American Psychological Association and American Psychiatric Association. Nationwide support for the legislation has come from newspaper editorsphysicians, and parents of children with mental illness. More information can be found here

Culminating the week, KDKA released an editorial by Senior Vice President and KDKA General Manager Michael Young urging Congress to approve HR 2646. Tune into KDKA to hear the full message! 

To share your thoughts on the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act, click here.

New Teachers Welcomed At Peters Township Luncheon

Western Pennsylvania is nationally renowned for fostering excellent education in our schools through a challenging curriculum, emphasizing STEM education, and encouraging sports and fine arts. Our region also features outstanding teachers that promote success in the classroom. 

Recently, Congressman Murphy joined new teachers, school faculty, and community leaders at the annual welcome reception for new Peters Township School District teachers. Hosted by the Peters Township Chamber of Commerce, Murphy was a featured speaker this year, discussing his work at the federal level to improve education by doing away with one-size fits all educational mandates.

“Throughout my district, this is the only event that welcomes new teachers,” Murphy said, as reported in the South Hills Almanac. “Southwestern Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia have had their struggles. Make sure the kids are inspired and have a great year.”

Last month, the House of Representatives passed the Student Success Act, which overturns the flawed 2001 No Child Left Behind law and restores local accountability for public education. The Student Success Act consolidates the more than 80 federal programs into a Local Academic Flexible Grant to allow states and school districts to focus on local educational priorities, not Washington DC mandates. The legislation allows states and school districts to design their own teacher and principal evaluation systems without federal interference. H.R. 5 also prohibits the federal government from coercing states into adopting Common Core or any other federal curriculum mandate.

Peters Township School District will kick off the school year on August 31st and Congressman Murphy wishes the students and faculty a successful year!

To share your thoughts on education issues,
click here.

Historic Jeannette Plant Now Cutting-Edge Recycler

Murphy tours Triumvirate's Red2Green operations.
During World War II, American GIs victoriously fought island to island against the Japanese Empire in the Pacific Theatre. Many of the boats used during this period were manufactured by Elliot Company at the plant on Claridge-Elliott Road in Jeannette, Pennsylvania. Following the war, the factory was sold to Hanlin-Wilson Company to build exhaust manifolds for cars, boats, and planes. Today, the Jeannette plant is operated by Triumvirate Environmental to process non-biological medical waste containers into plastic lumber.   

Congressman Murphy recently visited the operation and saw firsthand how the historic plant that once made military crafts to help defeat the Japanese, now helps keep refuse out of the environment and safely repurposed. Murphy applauded Triumvirate for their continued innovation and job opportunities in the community. 

Standard disposal of medical waste is expensive and detrimental to the environment. In fact it is traditionally picked up from healthcare institutions and brought to an incinerator or dumped into a landfill. However Triumvirate developed a solution, called the Red2Green program, to avoid these issues. The program involves melting down medical waste and reusing it for plastic lumber instead of sterilizing and dumping into landfills. The products are repurposed into landscape timbers, speed bumps, farm tools, and many other items. Clients see a 20-30% cost savings that use Triumvirate services.  

To share your thoughts on Triumvirate, click here.

Murphy Visits Tri County Patriots For Independent Living 

At Washington County's TRIPIL facility.   
Recently, Congressman Tim Murphy was invited to visit and tour the Tri County Patriots for Independent Living (TRIPIL) facility in Washington, PA.

Funded by State and Federal agencies such as the Department of Labor, TRIPIL provides and links community services for equal access, assistive technology, education, employment, housing, and transportation for over 1,000 consumers in Washington, Greene, and Fayette Counties.

The onsite physical wellness gym, which Congressman Murphy toured firsthand, contains fully accessible adaptive equipment from gripping aids to arm bikes for cardio workouts and aerobic exercise sports.  

TRIPIL’s dedicated staff provides mentoring to promote self-awareness and healthy lifestyle choices, helping consumers to avoid conditions that threaten their independence.

Congressman Murphy also learned about TRIPIL’s youth services program, which works with school students, offering summer camps as well as career services once they reach graduation age.

During the Congressman’s visit, TRIPIL showcased plans to build accessible dream homes in local neighborhoods, marketing them to individuals with disabilities. TRIPIL also partners with government agencies responsible for providing affordable housing amongst the aging and disabled populations.

TRIPIL staff also spoke with Congressman Murphy about the rehabilitation of the historical YWCA building in Washington. The vision for the new facility is a state of the art community center with modern features that ensure accessibility those with disabilities.  

According to TRIPIL, over 52 million Americans are living with disabilities, with 515 individuals in Washington County alone. The agency has assisted over 500 more throughout Western Pennsylvania.

Congressman Murphy was able to share with TRIPIL leadership the benefits of his Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act and its relation to those living with disabilities. 

Report: VA Failing to Hire Mental Health Professionals

According to a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Office of the Inspector General report issued this week, the VA does not have enough psychiatrists to meet demand for services. And, the VA does not use the psychiatrists they do have in an efficient manner. This report comes after a multiyear, multibillion-dollar push to improve mental health services for veterans. 

The report also highlighted that the VA has focused on meeting overall hiring goals rather than hiring personnel to fill gaps at specific facilities. Rep. Murphy said “Nearly 22 veterans die by suicide every day; our nation’s heroes don’t have the privilege of waiting for care. They need help now.”

Aside from the shortage of providers, veterans with post-traumatic stress, depression, or anxiety face bureaucratic red tape when transitioning from active-duty to the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) health system. The VA requires a veteran to switch medication if their prescription is not included in the VA’s drug formulary, regardless if the medication is working. Only after the veteran change medication and the drug fails can they switch back to their original drug. Otherwise, the veteran must go through an appeals process to remain on their current medication.

To fix this ongoing problem, Congressman Murphy introduced the Enhancing Veterans' Access To Treatment Act, legislation to ensure veterans using VA care can continue to receive the same lifesaving mental health medication they accessed while on active-duty.

Murphy's EVAT Act requires the VA mental health drug formulary match the Department of Defense (DOD) and that any veteran transferring from the DOD to the VA be kept on the same medications for as long as medically necessary. “For veterans dealing with invisible injuries, the VA drug formulary acts as a road block for those who are on the path to recovery. The EVAT Act eliminates this obstacle by allowing seamless continuity of medication and leaves any decisions to change medication up to the doctor and veteran,” said Murphy.

To share your thoughts on Murphy's EVAT Act, please click here.

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