APA Praises House COVID-19 Relief Package; Calls Upon Senate to Pass Legislation

Washington, D.C., Oct. 2, 2020 -The American Psychiatric Association (APA) today applauded the mental health and addiction-related resources included in the Heroes Act (H.R. 8406) passed by the U.S. House.  Evidence is mounting that the COVID-19 pandemic is exacerbating mental health conditions, while the economic consequences of the pandemic have been reducing the mental health and substance use treatment capacity across the country. The resources in the House-passed Heroes Act constitute a needed step toward treatment for mental illness and substance use disorders. The bill includes: 

  • $8.5 billion for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to fund state mental health and substance abuse block grants, trauma-informed care and other services and supports for schoolchildren, suicide prevention and Community Behavioral Health Clinics.
  • A 14% increase to Medicaid funding for states, as well as medical assistance under Medicaid for inmates during the 30-day period preceding their release.
  • $1 billion for grants for schools of medicine in diverse and underserved areas, including minority-serving institutions.
  • $4.7 billion for the National Institutes of Health, including $200 million specifically for the National Institute of Mental Health, and funds for data collection across the Department of Health and Human Services on health disparities.
  • Expedited visa processing for physicians and health care workers to ensure needed access to care.

“Our nation remains at the front end of the mental health consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said APA President Jeffrey Geller, M.D., M.P.H. “These funds are a start at ensuring that Americans have access to treatment for mental health and substance use disorders when they most need it. We ask the Senate to maintain these provisions when it considers COVID-19 relief.”

“In addition to these provisions, Congress should strongly consider guaranteeing continued access to telehealth services in the home,” said APA CEO and Medical Director Saul Levin, M.D., M.P.A. “The value of expanded access to telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic is clear, and Congress should provide certainty that these services will continue so patients can get the care they need.”

American Psychiatric Association
The American Psychiatric Association, founded in 1844, is the oldest medical association in the country. The APA is also the largest psychiatric association in the world with 38,800 physician members specializing in the diagnosis, treatment, prevention and research of mental illnesses. APA’s vision is to ensure access to quality psychiatric diagnosis and treatment. For more information please visit www.psychiatry.org.

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