The AAMC joined nearly 30 other health care organizations on a July 29 letter urging Congressional leaders to improve access to children’s mental health care by strengthening Medicaid support for pediatric mental health services, extending telehealth flexibilities, and other improvements.
The letter states, “The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on children’s mental health highlight the nation’s acute shortage of developmentally and culturally appropriate mental health services and the need to reinforce and expand the pediatric mental health delivery system and infrastructure. Congress must act now to promote access to necessary mental health care for children and adolescents by increasing immediate and long-term investments in the pediatric health care safety net, promoting comprehensive, integrated care, and building new and different national capacity to support care across the continuum.”
Specifically, the letter urges Congress to:
- Strengthen Medicaid by increasing the federal Medicaid match for pediatric mental health care services or by enhancing reimbursement rates for Medicaid providers of these services.
- Extend and preserve telehealth flexibilities under Medicaid by directing the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to issue guidance to states on how to improve and sustain the availability of telehealth under Medicaid during the pandemic and beyond, including coverage of audio-only services, to provide appropriate pediatric care.
- Strengthen systems of care through better coordination and integration by providing resources to allow providers to effectively implement and bolster sustainable care coordination and integration strategies. Additionally, Congress should provide flexible resources to support a range of child and adolescent-centered, community-based prevention and treatment services.
- Invest in infrastructure to promote care in the appropriate setting by providing resources to support efforts to scale-up inpatient care capacity and provide funding for the creation of additional pediatric care capacity for new sites of care to improve access to mental health services.
- Support the growth of the pediatric mental health workforce by investing additional funding in both new and existing pediatric mental health workforce training and loan repayment programs.