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the Administration is committed to making sure that anyone who may pose a danger to themselves or others does not have access to a gun. On Friday, January 3rd 2014 the White House announced two new executive actions that will strengthen the federal background check to prevent guns from falling into the wrong hands. The regulation would clarify who would be prohibited from possessing a firearm for reasons related to mental health. This comes after a series of mass shootings in the recent years that have been linked to mentally ill shooters.
Some States blame the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act’s (HIPAA) privacy provisions for preventing access to an individual’s mental health information. The Department of Health and Human Services is issuing a proposed rule stating that HIPAA would have permission to submit necessary, but limited information to the federal background check system in order to keep guns out of potentially dangerous hands. The rule would not require general mental health reports on routine visits or care nor would it exempt providers who solely perform these treatment services from existing privacy rules. Another proposed rule would clarify mental health terminology. Some States have noted that the terms used by federal law to prohibit people from purchasing a firearm are ambiguous.
...and proposing more funds be used for efforts such as training additional mental health professionals. In addition, the President’s FY 2014 Budget includes a proposal for a $130 million initiative which will address several barriers that may prevent people from getting mental health problems. The Administration has also expanded the coverage of mental health services so care is affordable. This has launched a national conversation on the stigma association with having a mental illness and getting help. Funds will go to improve facilities and to train additional mental health professionals.
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