Mental Health Funding and Other Bipartisan Mental Health Bills to Be Considered in the Senate Budget
The Senate Finance Committee is poised to release a package of bills this summer to address the lack of adequate mental health care and increase access to services. The bill will make improvements in pay parity laws and other key reforms. The Murphy and Cassidy bill also addresses parity and would give states $25 million each to enforce the law. The legislation is a way for lawmakers to address mental health needs, especially after the devastating COVID-19 epidemic that struck the country.
The Senate is likely to focus on building up the behavioral health workforce, improving connections between mental health care and physical care, and ensuring the parity between the two. As part of the FY 2023 budget, Becerra outlined a number of important investments in behavioral health. These investments would include expanding access to mental health services, enforcing mental health parity laws, and strengthening the nation’s behavioral health workforce.
In addition to enhancing access, the bill would fund school-linked mental health grants. The funding will improve the identification of mental health problems among students. It would also expand the use of mobile crisis service teams (MCRSTs), which are comprised of mental health professionals who are ready to respond to mental health crises in the school setting. In addition to providing funding for mental health care services, the bill also authorizes the creation of new mental health facilities.
The AHA is urging lawmakers to pass the Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act to address the mental health crisis that plagues healers. Dr. Breen, a physician from Charlottesville, Virginia, was on the front lines of the influenza pandemic and died by suicide in early 2020. The act is intended to prevent future suicides among health care providers and to address burnout and mental health conditions in these professionals.
The Department of Mental Health will submit its FY23 budget request to the Joint Legislative Budget Committee on September 24. In this budget request, the department asks for $220,868,752 in General Fund appropriations, $19,551,886 in State Source Special Funds, and $409,109,716 in Other Special Source Funds. This totals to $649,530,354.
The program would be a comprehensive school-based mental health program. It would be culturally and linguistically appropriate and incorporate evidence-based, trauma-informed services. It would also include a comprehensive mental health program that would serve children with trauma, grief, and risk of suicide and violence. Further, the funding would allow for a comprehensive mental health program at schools and support the work of local agencies. This legislation would make the process of providing mental health care more affordable and accessible.