APA Advocacy on Mental Health Legislation Leads to Victory in U.S. House of Representatives
APA Member Support Needed to Ensure Passage in Senate
Last month, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 7666, the Restoring Hope for Mental Health and Well-Being Act. The bill now goes to the U.S. Senate for consideration and deliberation of what measures will be included in a possible mental health legislative package.
The bill contains many items the American Psychiatric Association (APA) lobbied for, including parity enforcement, integrated care, crisis services funding, and workforce equity measures. Two of the key grant programs were proposed and drafted by APA, focused on parity enforcement and the Collaborative Care Model.
The APA-initiated parity enforcement language in the legislation, which was originally introduced as H.R. 3753, authorizes enforcement resources for state regulators and builds upon APA’s measure that passed the last Congress to strengthen the authority of enforcement agencies. APA secured the introduction of H.R. 3753 and support from a broad coalition of partners, including over 40 mental health organizations and the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.
The second APA-initiated measure of particular importance to psychiatry and access to mental health services is the initiative to authorize grants and technical assistance for primary care practices to better integrate the Collaborative Care Model into primary care settings.
APA has long supported the Collaborative Care Model as an evidence-based solution for connecting more patients with mental health care through their primary care physicians. As the substance use and mental health crises, particularly for children and adolescents, intensified through the pandemic, APA understood lawmakers urgently needed workable and innovative solutions that would promote access, including Collaborative Care.
To make an immediate impact in support of the legislation, visit the APA Advocacy Center.
APA Advocacy Actions Make a Difference
Specific actions APA staff and members have taken in this year’s Congress to promote Collaborative Care include:
- Drafted legislation, H.R. 5218, to provide grants to primary care to integrate mental health with primary care through the Collaborative Care Model. We also drafted model state legislation which passed in five states since 2019 and is currently pending in Massachusetts. Additionally, legislation that passed in Colorado and Pennsylvania this year will provide funding for collaborative care implementation.
- Built a coalition of more than 40 physician, mental health, patient advocate, employer, payor, and substance use organizations to back the legislation.
- Launched a communications effort around that coalition to attract attention to the bill on a national scale.
- Included Collaborative Care as a priority issue during APA’s Federal Advocacy Conference to educate members of Congress on the benefits of Collaborative Care. APA members met with more than 150 members of Congress in support of H.R. 5218 during the conference.
- Testified before key committees regarding a series of mental health proposals, including our Collaborative Care and Parity legislation, including two hearings before key subcommittees of House Energy & Commerce (see Feb. 17 testimony (.pdf) and April 5 testimony (.pdf)). Submitted to the House Ways and Means Committee for a Feb. 2 hearing on “America’s Mental Health Crisis.”
- Sponsored a webinar in collaboration with the Association for Behavioral Health and Wellness entitled “Lessons Learned: The Health Plan Experience With Implementing Collaborative Care” featuring William Beecroft, M.D., DLFAPA medical director, Behavioral Health Strategy and Planning, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Vik Shah, M.D., M.B.A., national medical director for Quality & Network Performance, Cigna. View the webinar here and use the passcode 9ZbWu*LT.
What’s Next: We Need Your Support
Now that the bill has passed the House, the next steps will be moving the legislation in the U.S. Senate. We are urging APA Members to contact their senators as soon as possible in support of the bill. There are multiple ways to get involved:
- Visit our Advocacy Action Center We make it easy for you to take action & contact your legislators.
- Sign up for Advocacy Alerts and Updates (Member login required) Timely news and requests for action to help us make a difference for psychiatry.
- Support APAPAC (Member login required) APAPAC is the political arm of APA – it amplifies our voice on Capitol Hill and helps us get mental health champions elected to the U.S. Congress.
- Join the APA Congressional Advocacy Network (Member login required) CAN is APA's political grassroots network – our advocates connect with members of Congress to ensure that legislation is informed by constituent psychiatrists.