“In this moment, when the United States is suffering tens of thousands of opioid-related overdose deaths every year, the DEA’s top priority is doing everything in our power to save lives. Medication-assisted treatment helps those who are fighting to overcome substance use disorder by sustaining recovery and preventing overdoses. At DEA, our goal is simple: we want medication-assisted treatment to be readily and safely available to anyone in the country who needs it.”
Administrator Milgram of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), announcing the agency’s continued commitment to expanding medication-assisted treatment (MAT) access through the Operation Engage initiative.
President Biden’s FY 2023 Budget Request Seeks Robust Investments in Mental Health and Substance Use
President Biden released his Fiscal Year 2023 Budget Request this week, seeking significant and robust investments in mental health and substance use disorder treatment, prevention, and recovery services. The purpose of the proposal is for the President to make recommendations on how the federal government should allocate funds, acting more as a messaging tool to represent the Biden-Harris Administration’s goals and priorities. Key mental health and substance use-related items proposed include, but are not limited to: an increase in SAMHSA’s funding to $10.13 billion, a 35% increase from FY2022; the ability for all states and territories to participate in the existing Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHCs) demonstration program; further investments in access to crisis services through 9-8-8 and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline; strengthened mental health parity protections; expansions to the types of Medicare providers who can provide mental health and substance use services; designated State Opioid Response grant and Substance Abuse and Prevention and Treatment Block Grant (SABG) funding; and funds to support prevention, harm reduction, treatment and recovery support services not covered by commercial insurance.
Senate Finance Committee Bipartisan Report on Mental Health Care
In a newly released bipartisan report, the Senate Finance Committee makes the case for Congressional action to improve mental health for Americans covered under federal programs, such as Medicaid, Medicare and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). The Committee identifies five key areas that must be addressed to improve access: workforce, care integration, parity, telehealth and youth. The Committee found that access to affordable, reliable and high-quality mental health and substance use disorder services evades Americans when it is most needed, and even more so for racial and ethnic minorities as well as people living in underserved urban and rural communities. For more information and to read the report, click here.
Senate Hearing Dedicated to Mental Health Parity and Care Integration
This week, the Senate Finance Committee held a hearing Behavioral Health Care When Americans Need It: Ensuring Parity and Care Integration. Witnesses and Senators discussed the importance of integrating mental health and substance use disorder services into primary care settings and vice versa, as well as the challenges that are still present in achieving mental health and substance use parity. Notably, Senators Stabenow (D-MI) and Lankford (R-OK) highlighted the success of CCBHCs in supplying crisis services and improving access to lifesaving mental health and substance use services in rural areas. For more information on this hearing, read a summary here.
HHS Study Finds Increases in Child Mental Health Diagnoses from 2016 to 2020
Researchers found that the number of children ages 3 to 17 years who were diagnosed with anxiety grew by 29% and those with depression by 27% between 2016 and 2020, in a study conducted by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). Importantly, the study found a notable impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on children and families. In the last two years of the study, unmet health care needs grew by 32% and reported behavior or conduct problems in children grew by 21%. In the announcement of the study, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) highlighted the
need to support children and their families through access to health care services to help improve the overall mental and emotional wellbeing of these groups.
Webinar on Addressing Workforce Challenges through Integrated Care
Join the Center of Excellence for Integrated Health Solutions (CoE) for a webinar on addressing workforce challenges through integrated care on Thursday, April 7 from 2-3 pm ET. Integrated whole-person care is critical to addressing the rise in demand for mental health, substance use treatment, and general health care services. However, organizations working to integrate mental health and substance use services continue to be challenged by the impact of the pandemic on their operations. Register for the webinar here.
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HAPPENING ON THE HILL
GAO Report on Access to Mental Health Care for Covered Consumers. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has released a report on Mental Health Care: Access Challenges for Covered Consumers and Relevant Federal Efforts, devoted to the challenges individuals face with trying to access mental health care and the federal efforts to improve access. GAO found that consumers with coverage for mental health care often experience difficulties finding providers in their network, are restricted in approval processes and find limits to their plan coverage.