Wednesday, March 10, 2021

APA Hails Passage of COVID Relief Bill Including Funds for Mental Illness and Substance Use Disorders

APA leaders praised the inclusion of several provisions related to mental health in the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (HR 1319)—the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, which the House of Representatives passed today by a vote of 220-211. The legislation, which is expected to be signed into law by President Biden later this week, includes approximately $4 billion in funding for programs that support the prevention of and treatment for mental and substance use disorders.

“It is essential and heartening that Congress and the administration included funding for our nation’s mental health system in this wave of COVID relief,” said APA President Jeffrey Geller, M.D., M.P.H. “We are particularly pleased to see support for our frontline physicians and other workers, many of whom have made great sacrifices during this time, and many of whom are hurting.”

Among the provisions APA supported are the following:

  • Funding for mental/substance use disorder services through programs like the Community Mental Health Services Block Grant and the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant.
  • The Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act, which includes funding for training, educational programs, and other initiatives designed to promote mental and behavioral wellness of health care workers.
  • Funding for community behavioral health services, such as the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, Project AWARE (Advancing Wellness and Resiliency in Education), youth suicide prevention, and Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics.
  • Expanded eligibility for premium assistance for individuals under the Affordable Care Act.
  • Increased Medicaid funding, including resources for mobile crisis services and other community-based behavioral health needs.
  • Funding for pediatric mental health care access grants to promote mental health integration with pediatric primary care.

In addition, mental health services and supports are eligible for a portion of the funding provided to reopen elementary and secondary schools.

“We will not recover sufficiently from this pandemic long term unless we address our mental health with the same urgency and attention as our physical health,” said APA CEO and Medical Director Saul Levin, M.D., M.P.A. “This package is a huge step in the right direction, and we look forward to working with Congress and the administration to implement policies and services that will help all our patients.”

(Image: iStock/flySnow)

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