WASHINGTON- US Senators Bill Cassidy, MD (R-LA) and Chris Murphy (D-CT), members of the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, today introduced a bill to reauthorize historic federal mental health and addictions programs that were enacted in 2016 as part of their Mental Health Reform Act before they expire in September. The Mental Health Reform Reauthorization Act 2022 also addresses the devastating impact of COVID-19 on the national mental health crisis, particularly among children, building on the 2016 legislation to improve and expand these programs.
“We all have loved ones affected by mental illness. The pandemic has intensified our mental health crisis, especially in our children,” said Dr. Cassidy. “Our bill preserves and enhances the resources that have been a lifeline to so many Americans over the past five years.”
“The Mental Health Reform Act has made important strides in getting people the mental health care they need. But now, as we face a national mental health crisis exacerbated by two years of a pandemic, the programs we created are about to expire. That’s why our new bill goes further than just reauthorization — it doubles down on strengthening parity protections and expanding access to pediatric mental health. There is no time to waste, and I look forward to working with the HELP committee to ensure it is signed into law. » said Senator Murphy.
Last fall, senators sought feedback from patients, families, health care providers, advocacy organizations and state, local, tribal and territorial governments on the effectiveness of programs created by the 2016 legislation and areas for improvement to inform the drafting of this legislation. More specifically, the Mental Health Reform Reauthorization Act 2022 would like to:
Strengthen existing mental health and addictions parity laws by:
- Authorizing $25 million to support states’ ability to enforce existing mental health and substance use disorder parity laws;
- Prevent health insurance plans that cover frontline workers from refusing to provide joint coverage.
Improve community mental health services by:
- Authorize a significant increase in Mental Health Services Block Grant (MHBG) funding for states to provide mental health services and promote increased quality of programs for people with serious mental illness (SMI);
- Reauthorize HRSA’s Promotion of Integrating Primary and Behavioral Health Care (PIPBHC), which places behavioral health specialists in primary care offices.
Expand access to pediatric mental health care by:
- Promote greater access to mental health care in schools and emergency departments through the HRSA’s Pediatric Mental Health Care Access Program (PMHCAP);
- Expand behavioral health training for pediatricians and other primary care providers who treat children and adolescents through HRSA’s Primary Care Training and Improvement Program;
- Reauthorize SAMHSA programs for children with severe emotional disorders.
Increase recruitment of a diverse mental health workforce by:
- Expand SAMHSA’s Minority Fellowship Program (MFP) through increased funding and inclusion of addictions physicians to address the need for a diverse workforce for the treatment of substance abuse disorders substance use;
- Reauthorize HRSA Mental and Behavioral Health Education and Training Grants to Increase the Supply of Behavioral Health Professionals with a Focus on Helping Children, Teens and Youth at Risk for Health Issues behavioral.
Provide a pathway to recovery for vulnerable people by:
- Ensure that individuals served by SAMHSA’s Prison Diversion Program (JDP) grants are treated the same as any other patient by preventing unnecessary and disruptive medication changes;
- Empower the SAMHSA Projects for Assistance in Transition from Homelessness (PATH) program to support access to desperately needed housing for homeless people with mental illness.
The bill is approved by:
- American Academy of Pediatrics
- American Community Psychiatric Association
- American Association for Emergency Psychiatry
- American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy
- American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
- American Occupational Therapy Association
- American Psychiatric Association
- American Psychological Association
- American Society for Addiction Medicine
- Association of Directors of University and College Guidance Centers
- autism speaks
- Association of Behavioral Health Providers
- Bipartisan Policy Center
- CADA of Northwest Louisiana
- California Consortium of Addiction Programs and Professionals
- Connecticut Certification Board
- Connecticut Council of Family Service Agencies, Inc.
- Solutions Health Connections
- Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
- International Certification and Reciprocity Consortium
- Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute
- Mental Health America
- National Alliance on Mental Illness
- National Association for Behavioral Health
- National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors
- National Council of Certified and Affiliated Counselors, Inc. (NBCC).
- Partnership to End Addiction
- Action Alliance for Schizophrenia and Psychosis
- Treatment Promotion Center
A clause-by-clause summary of the bill is available here.
A page from the bill can be found here.