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  • Washington Highlights

    Senate Finance Committee Seeks Proposals to Address Behavioral Health Needs


    Jason Kleinman, Senior Legislative Analyst, Govt. Relations

    Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Ranking Member Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) sent a Sept. 21 letter seeking input to develop bipartisan legislation to address barriers to mental health care.

    The letter notes, “Prior to the pandemic, an estimated one in five adults (51.5 million) in the U.S. were living with a mental illness, ranging from mild to severe. Since the pandemic began, the rate of anxiety and/or depression symptoms in adults has nearly quadrupled. These growing needs have posed substantial challenges for America’s mental health care system, with more than 55% of adults diagnosed with mental illness and almost 60% of children diagnosed with major depression going untreated in 2020.”

    To better understand how to address these challenges, the committee is requesting legislative proposals “that will improve access to health care services for Americans with mental health and substance use disorders.”

    Specifically, the committee is seeking solutions and ideas in the following areas:

    • Strengthening the workforce.
    • Increasing integration, coordination, and access to care.
    • Ensuring parity between behavioral and physical health care.
    • Furthering the use of telehealth.
    • Improving access to behavioral health care for children and young people.

    The AAMC plans to respond to this request by the Nov. 1 deadline.