The AAMC sent a letter on Nov. 15 to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Ranking Member Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) responding to their Sept. 21 request for input on developing policy proposals and bipartisan legislation to address barriers to mental health care [refer to Washington Highlights, Sept. 24].
The letter expressed the AAMC’s appreciation for Sens. Wyden and Crapo’s “efforts to improve patient access to quality mental health care and to ensure our nation's health infrastructure is able to support the increasing demand in the wake of the public health emergency.” The letter also expressed the AAMC’s strong support for the senators’ efforts and its desire to work with the “Senate Finance Committee, policymakers, and other health care stakeholders to engage in and provide input to this important conversation.”
The letter went on to highlight the AAMC’s commitment to addressing the significant challenges facing mental and behavior health. To help address this issue, the letter noted, one key action plan in the AAMC’s Strategic Plan, “Improving Access to Care for All,” is specifically focused on mental and behavioral health, including integrated behavioral health care and maternal mental health. The letter stated, “This work builds on our efforts over several years to support medical schools and teaching hospitals in better preventing, identifying, and treating substance use disorders. We look forward to helping inform the Committee’s understanding of these important issues and working together as you develop policy proposals.”
Some of the AAMC’s recommendations in the letter include:
- Facilitate expansion of integrated behavioral health models.
- Implement policies and programs to prevent emergency room overcrowding.
- Increase mental health support during the perinatal period.
- Strengthen the physician workforce.
- Build on ongoing efforts to enhance the delivery of telehealth services and increase patients’ access to behavioral and mental health care.
On June 15, the Senate Finance Committee held a hearing focused on identifying barriers to accessing mental health services and solutions to address the concerns [refer to Washington Highlights, June 17]. The senators’ request for information is the next step in the Committee’s bipartisan legislative effort to improve behavioral health care.