The House yesterday easily approved a $1 trillion omnibus budget bill, the result of intensive negotiations over the last month to fund government operations for the remainder of 2014 and avert another shutdown. The bill, which is also expected to pass the Senate this week, increases mental health funding over 2013 levels and includes $15 million for Mental Health First Aid training.
The bipartisan, bicameral 2014 budget agreement (H.R. 3547) reduces the impact of the sequestration cuts and largely spares healthcare programs from major reductions. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) will receive a $144 million increase over fiscal year 2013 levels, for a total budget of $3.6 billion. Among the highlights of the SAMHSA budget are:
Securing federal funding for Mental Health First Aid training has long been a priority for the National Council. President & CEO Linda Rosenberg praised the budget deal, saying “Mental Health First Aid is a low-cost but high-impact way to make a real difference. The new funding from SAMHA will ensure that thousands of professionals working on the front lines will have access to this simple but highly effective training… These skills can save lives, and we applaud SAMHSA for providing this essential funding.”
Among other health agencies and programs that receive increases in the spending package are the National Institutes of Health. The $29.9 billion allocated to NIH includes support for the Brain Research through Application of Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative, a multi-agency effort to map the human brain.
The federal government has been operating under a series of stopgap funding resolutions since 2012. The omnibus 2014 budget bill represents the first time in several years that Congress has been able to reach agreement on all of the line item appropriations that make up the annual budget.