Bipartisan Mental Health Legislation Awaits House Vote

Annual overdose deaths in the U.S. reached an all-time high of 100,000 last year and overdose remains the second-leading cause of death for people between the ages of 10 and 14. In an attempt to address the rising number of overdose deaths and suicides in the United States, Representatives Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), the heads of the Energy and Commerce Committee, introduced the Restoring Hope for Mental Health and Well-Being Act of 2022 on May 6, 2022, which legislation would reauthorize key Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) programs. The legislation includes provisions that address mental health concerns in children and focus on expanding access to mental health care by steps, including improving workforce initiatives. In addition to reauthorizing several federal health programs, the bill would require self-funded, non-federal government plans to comply with laws requiring the same coverage for mental health care as other types of medical care.

The bipartisan legislation includes provisions that would:

  • Establish a Behavioral Health Crisis Coordinating Office within SAMHSA and require the office to meet and engage with private partners and provide technical assistance to enhance access to crisis care annually;
  • Reauthorize critical public health programs to address the nation’s mental health needs, prevent suicide, and support substance use disorder prevention, treatment, and recovery support services. This includes a reauthorization of:
    • The Maternal Mental Health Screening and Treatment grant program to enhance treatment for maternal mental health and substance use disorders;
    • Community Mental Health Services Block Grants to support community mental health services;
    • Grants to support American Indians and Alaskan Native communities with mental health and substance use disorder prevention, treatment, and recovery services;
    • The Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act Suicide Prevention program to provide resources to states, tribes, and campuses of higher education to help prevent suicide in youths and young adults; and
    • The Comprehensive Community Mental Health Services for Children with Serious Emotional Disturbances and the Youth and Family TREE treatment and recovery services programs to address mental health in youth and young adults;
  • Require self-funded, non-federal governmental plans to comply with mental health parity laws;
  • Establish a Mental Health Crisis Response Partnership Pilot Program which reauthorizes additional SAMHSA programs intended to address mental health needs, provide crisis response care, and prevent suicide among adults;
  • Establish a SAMHSA National Center of Excellence for Eating Disorders grant program to enhance the development and provision of training and technical assistance to primary and behavioral health providers on the identification, effective treatment, and ongoing support of individuals with eating disorders;
  • Reauthorize programs to support and strengthen the health care workforce;
  • Reauthorize the Pediatric Mental Health Care Access grant program to improve the integration of pediatric primary care providers with behavioral health providers through telehealth; and
  • Change requirements for Opioid Treatment Programs relating to admission, operations, and administration of medications.

The House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee is set to vote on the bill this week. If approved by the subcommittee, the legislation would need the full House Energy and Commerce Committee’s approval before it is scheduled for a vote on the House floor.