Help Stop the Helping Families in Mental Crisis Act

The Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act of 2015 (also known as the Murphy Bill or H.R. 2646) passed through the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee. This bill could be dangerous and has been gaining public support.

Provisions in this bill strip away many of the civil and human rights of people with psychiatric disabilities under the guise of violence prevention. This bill is based on incorrect assumptions about people labeled with psychiatric disabilities, and it perpetuates stereotypes and misinformation.

Here are a few ways the bill would be harmful to people with disabilities:

  • Change the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration which could threaten effective programs such as peer support.
  • Promote involuntary treatment (called “Assisted Outpatient Treatment”), limited federal aid for community mental health services to states that fail to have laws conforming to new standards.
  • Increase institutionalization by modifying the Institutions for Mental Diseases exclusion, which would allow Medicaid payment for nursing homes and hospitals.
  • Limit the work in which Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness is permitted to engage.
  • Create lower standards of privacy for people with psychiatric diagnoses due to changes in HIPAA regulations.

This discriminatory bill can be stopped. It is currently in the House Energy and Commerce Committee. North Dakota is represented on this committee by Representative Kevin Cramer. Send him a letter and tell him not support the Mental Health Crisis Act of 2015 (also known as the Murphy Bill or H.R. 2646).


Amazon to Provide Captioning on All Videos by 2016

amazon_logo_rgbBy 2016, Amazon has agreed to provide captioning on nearly all of its videos for rent or sale as part of a deal with the National Association of the Deaf (NAD). NAD announced that Amazon will caption 100% of movies and television shows that have been watched at least 10 times in a 3 month period.

Since the beginning of the year, Amazon has provided subtitles on all shows and movies on its streaming service through Amazon Prime. However, only 85% of its cache of videos for rent and sale outside of Prime has captions.

In recent years, NAD has pressured online video companies to provide subtitles for people who are deaf. In 2012, NAD took Netflix to court where a settlement to caption all of their video content was reached. The Ninth circuit of Appeals reached a separate decision in April that because Netflix’s services are not connected to any “actual physical place,” they are therefore not subject to the disabilities law.

Unlike with Netflix, the deal with Amazon was made without litigation. Howard Rosenblum, the chief executive of NAD said, “The NAD is thrilled by Amazon’s decision to make its online entertainment experience more accessible to those who are deaf or hard of hearing.”