Friday, March 27, 2020

APA Praises Mental Health Provisions in COVID-19 Stimulus Aid Package

APA today praised Congress for approving a $2 trillion stimulus aid package to provide fiscal relief for Americans and businesses in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. The legislation, known as the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), includes many provisions supported by APA that will enable psychiatrists and mental health care professionals to better respond to the pandemic. President Donald Trump signed the legislation on March 27..

“You can’t have a healthy economy without healthy people—and that includes mental health,” said APA President Bruce Schwartz, M.D. “This stimulus bill will strengthen our ability to help the millions of Americans with existing mental illnesses or substance use disorders, and more with emerging mental health issues as the pandemic unfolds. This is a promising development in the nation’s efforts to fight the impact of COVID-19.”

Among the provisions of the CARES Act that APA supports are $425 million for Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration programs (including $250 for Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics and $50 million for suicide prevention programs) and $4 billion for community health centers. The bill further loosens restrictions governing telehealth services by repealing the Medicare requirement that allows only health care professionals to see a patient remotely if they have previously seen that patient within the past three years. The legislation also aligns 42 CFR Part II with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) to allow sharing of substance use disorder records between health care professionals. Additionally, the legislation suspends the 2% Medicare sequester cut through December 2020.

“As we respond to one of the largest public health threats facing our country in decades, funding for behavioral health initiatives and expanding telemedicine is critical,” said APA CEO and Medical Director Saul Levin, M.D., M.P.A. “We strongly believe that federal and state government will need to continue to support physicians, who will be working long hours and in many cases risking their own health, as we continue to address this pandemic.”

APA’s COVID-19 Resource Center Keeps You Updated

APA’s COVID-19 Resource Center brings together a number of useful resources from APA and other authoritative sources to help you deal with the COVID-19 crisis.


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