Republican congressman Tim Murphy raises concerns over nominee Dr. Elinore McCance-Katz
In an interview this week, Rep. Tim Murphy (R., Pa.), a leading GOP voice on mental health, said nominee Dr. Elinore McCance-Katz was part of a team that blocked reforms when she was chief medical officer of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration under President Obama.
..Mr. Murphy had strongly backed Michael Welner, a forensic psychiatrist who helped him draft the legislation, for the job. Dr. Welner would have likely been a controversial choice
; he has been criticized by colleagues for court testimony against defendants that others believed had serious mental-health problems, and for television appearances in which he offered opinions on people he had never personally evaluated.
.. The congressman had long argued that programs like art therapy—which he said aren’t based on solid research and don’t provide effective treatment—took government funds away from other programs offering more direct medical assistance such as hospitalizations, talk therapy and medication. At the center of that criticism was SAMHSA, where he felt this “anti-medical” mind-set was rampant.
.. SAMHSA officials have defended programs such as one helping teachers recognize signs of mental illness in children and another teaching young children about drug abuse, which some lawmakers had cited as examples of waste.
.. “Murphy has been the most outspoken critic—rightly so—of SAMHSA, and Ellie quit SAMHSA for much of the same reasons. There’s something here that doesn’t add up.”