Counterterrorism measures (with some gun sale limitations)
Last week, House GOP leaders announced a bill that includes the ability for law enforcement to seek to block firearms purchases if they suspect the person poses a terrorism risk.
The bill establishes an Office for Partnerships to Prevent Terrorism within the Department of Homeland Security to coordinate efforts to prevent terrorism and activities related to recruitment, radicalization, and propaganda. It also provides authority for the Attorney General to deny the sale, delivery, or transfer of firearms or explosives to known or suspected terrorists. As explained by the House Republican Policy Committee:
When the Attorney General is notified of a request to transfer a firearm or an explosive to a person who is being, or has been investigated during the previous 5 years, as a known or suspected terrorist, the Attorney General shall notify relevant Federal, state, or local law enforcement agencies, or intelligence agencies, concerning the identity of the individual. In addition, the Attorney General may delay the transfer of the firearm by no more than 3 days and file an emergency petition in a court to prohibit the transfer of the firearm of explosive. An emergency petition can be granted only after a hearing, to which the individual looking to acquire the firearm or explosive receives notice and has an opportunity to participate with counsel. Finally, in the case of an emergency petition filed which has been denied, the court shall require that the United States pay the costs and attorney fees of the individual.
The bill was introduced in the wake of House Democrats’ sit-in calling for action on gun control after the tragic Orlando shooting. It is supported by the National Rifle Association (according to news reports). Several Democrats have expressed opposition and intent to offer amendments.
Mental Health Assistance and Reform
Members of Congress have also introduced bills to address access to mental health services in response to several tragic mass shootings. This week the House will vote on a bill from Rep. Tim Murphy [R, PA-18]:
The bill creates the position of Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders and establishes the National Mental Health Policy Laboratory and the Interagency Serious Mental Illness Coordinating Committee. It expands the number and type of mental health services that states may cover under Medicaid; prohibits Medicare and Medicaid from restricting access to drugs used to treat mental health disorders; eliminates the 190-day limit on Medicare coverage of stays in an inpatient psychiatric facility and expands the Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics demonstration program.
Health Policy and Medicare Payments
The bill would repeal provisions that disqualify expenses for over-the-counter medicine under health savings accounts (HSAs), Archer medical savings accounts (Archer MSAs), health flexible spending arrangements (FSAs), and health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs).
The bill would delay the implementation of a new round of Medicare payment rates for durable medical equipment (DME) for three months, until October 1, 2016, and require a study to examine the impact of DME payment adjustments. The bill also contains:
- H.R. 3716, the Ensuring Terminated Providers are Removed from Medicaid and Chip Act
- H.R. 3821, the Medicaid Directory of Caregivers Act
- H.R. 2949, the Treatment of Certain Payments in Eugenics Compensation Act