Nom­i­nee to HHS men­tal health post has been crit­i­cal of fed’s role

Modern Healthcare - - NEWS -

The 21st Cen­tury Cures Act cre­ated a new role within HHS tasked with bet­ter co­or­di­nat­ing more than 100 fed­eral pro­grams that aid peo­ple with men­tal ill­ness and sub­stance abuse. In late April, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump nom­i­nated Dr. Eli­nore McCance-Katz as the na­tion’s first as­sis­tant sec­re­tary for men­tal health and sub­stance abuse.

If con­firmed, McCance-Katz would over­see more than 600 em­ploy­ees and a bud­get of nearly $4 bil­lion. McCance-Katz, chief med­i­cal of­fi­cer for Rhode Is­land’s Depart­ment of Be­hav­ioral Health­care, De­vel­op­men­tal Dis­abil­i­ties and Hos­pi­tals, was the chief med­i­cal direc­tor of HHS’ Sub­stance Abuse and Men­tal Health Ser­vices Ad­min­is­tra­tion from 2013 to 2015.

SAMHSA was highly crit­i­cal of the 21st Cen­tury Cures Act when McCance-Katz was there. Rep. Tim Mur­phy (R-Pa.), a chief au­thor of the men­tal health re­form bill, lam­basted her nom­i­na­tion be­cause of her work with SAMHSA.

When she left SAMHSA, McCance-Katz wrote a com­men­tary in Psy­chi­atric Times that crit­i­cized the fed­eral govern­ment’s ap­proach to treat­ing pa­tients with se­ri­ous men­tal ill­ness. “SAMHSA does not ad­dress the treat­ment needs of the most vul­ner­a­ble in our so­ci­ety,” she wrote.


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