Legislation of Interest: Mental and Behavioral Health Legislative Requests

There are a number of bills that address mental health policy and priorities:

Strengthen Kids’ Mental Health Now Act – Reps. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., and Lisa Blunt Rochester, D-Del., introduced H.R. 7236, the Strengthen Kids’ Mental Health Now Act. This bill reflects children’s hospitals proposals and would bolster support for pediatric mental health care through Medicaid with enhanced reimbursement and improved Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic, Treatment (EPSDT) benefit implementation; support community-based pediatric mental health services and innovative solutions to increase care coordination and integration; invest in developing and growing the pediatric mental health workforce; and expand our national capacity to provide care to children across the continuum of care, including for those who require inpatient treatment and step-down levels of care. 54 bipartisan co-sponsors (including Florida’s Representatives Salazar, Frankel and Castor. Congressman Deutch to be added in September following recess). 

Helping Kids Cope Act – Reps. Lisa Blunt Rochester, D-Del., and Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., introduced H.R. 4944, Helping Kids Cope Act. This bill provides flexible funding for communities to support a range of child and adolescent centered community-based prevention and treatment services, including efforts to enhance integration and coordination across the continuum of care. H.R. 4944 also includes $100 million in funding annually for five years through HRSA grants dedicated to pediatric mental health workforce training and development across pediatric mental health fields where shortages persist. 65 bipartisan co-sponsors (including Florida’s Representatives Deutch, Lawson, Souto and Castor).

Children’s Mental Health Infrastructure Act – Reps. Lisa Blunt Rochester, D-Del., and Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., introduced H.R. 4943, Children’s Mental Health Infrastructure Act. This legislation provides $2 billion annually for five years in grants to children’s health care providers to increase their capacity to provide pediatric mental health services, including through the construction and moderation of sites of care as well as enhancements to digital infrastructure and security. 62 bipartisan co-sponsors (including Florida’s Representatives Deutch, Lawson and Crist and Castor).

TIKES Act – Reps. Lisa Blunt Rochester, D-Del., and Michael Burgess, R-Texas, and Sens. Tom Carper, D-Del., and John Cornyn, R-Texas, introduced H.R. 1397/S.1798, the Telehealth Improvement for Kids’ Essential Services (TIKES) Act. This legislation would promote access to telehealth services for children through Medicaid and CHIP and study children’s utilization of telehealth to identify barriers and evaluate outcomes. 15 bipartisan co-sponsors.

The Time to Act for Children’s Mental Health is Now:

America’s children are in a mental health crisis, and our nation’s pediatric mental health infrastructure is fragmented and insufficient to meet their needs. We need more mental health capacity across the continuum of care and immediate support for greater access and coordination of existing capacity at the community level to meet the current crisis, while building stronger systems of prevention most effectively for the future. 

Behavioral Health Policy Priorities — a set of proven solutions focused on improving mental health services for children across the continuum of care, from promotion and prevention through needed treatments: 

  • Increase critical Medicaid investments in pediatric behavioral health services, such as Medicaid parity with Medicare payment rates for similar services. 
  • Expand investments to support the recruiting, training, mentorship, retention and professional development of a diverse pediatric workforce, in a wide array of settings across the care continuum. 
  • Bolster community-based systems of care to facilitate prevention, early identification and treatment,
    and enhance coordination and integration of pediatric mental health care. 
  • Invest in pediatric mental health systems and infrastructure to expand care capacity. 
  • Facilitate access to mental health services for children through telehealth. 
  • Strengthen implementation and oversight of mental health parity requiring comparable coverage of mental health and physical health services. 

Our Ask: 

Support investments that are needed now to better support and sustain the full continuum of care needed for children’s mental health. These investments will significantly impact our children and our country for the better as we avoid more serious and costly outcomes later.