DearColleague.us

Letter

Sending Office: Honorable Joseph P. Kennedy III
Sent By:
Naomi.Plasky@mail.house.gov

Cosign Bicameral Behavioral Health Funding Letter

**Deadline: Noon Monday 4/27**

Complete this
form
 to cosign

Dear Colleague,

Representatives Kennedy, Matsui, and Tonko along with Senators Warren, Markey, and Murphy invite you to join a letter to leadership requesting $38.5 billion for behavioral health providers in the next COVID-19 package. COVID-19 has had a major impact on
people’s mental health and wellbeing and has exacerbated and contributed to existing and new behavioral health conditions. Behavioral health providers are at risk of closing their doors during this pandemic. With an already sparse workforce, now is not the
time to further reduce it, which will only intensify the limited access to behavioral health services.

To add your boss, please fill out this
form
by noon on Monday 4/27. If you have any questions, please reach out to Naomi Plasky in Rep. Kennedy’s office at
naomi.plasky@mail.house.gov.

Sincerely,

Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy, III

Rep. Doris Matsui

Rep. Paul Tonko

______________________________________________________________________________________________

Dear Majority Leader McConnell, Minority Leader Schumer, Speaker Pelosi, and Minority Leader McCarthy:

As you negotiate the next stimulus package to mitigate the health and economic effects of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, we request that you provide emergency funding to mental health disorder and addiction treatment providers across the
country. Many organizations that primarily treat individuals with mental health and/or substance use disorders (collectively, behavioral health organizations or “BHOs”) are at risk of closing their doors as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The immediate
and long-term effects of this cannot be overstated as millions of Americans rely on BHOs to address their mental health and substance use disorder treatment needs. As such, we request that you provide at least $38.5 billion in emergency funding to BHOs across
the country that utilize evidence-based practices, with a significant portion of these emergency funds set aside for BHOs enrolled in Medicaid.   

Millions of individuals, children, and families across the country struggle with mental illness or addiction each and every day. According to the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, nearly 1 in 5 adults, over 47 million people, reported struggling
with mental illness, and over 10 million reported suicidal thoughts.[1] These numbers are particularly concerning among the nation’s youth. 1 in 7 youth aged 12 to 17, or 3.5 million adolescents, reported experiencing
a major depressive episode in 2018, and record numbers of adolescents have attempted or considered suicide in recent years.[2] Further, over 20 million Americans are living with substance use disorder, including
2 million who have opioid use disorder.[3]

The numbers of Americans struggling with mental illness will only continue to grow as families and individuals face the emotional and economic repercussions of the pandemic. A recent poll found that the pandemic and its resultant social and economic impacts
are already taking a heavy toll on Americans’ mental health. Forty-five percent of respondents reported that the pandemic is negatively affecting their mental health, up from thirty-two percent just a month prior.[4]
Experts have even suggested that long-term social distancing from friends, loved ones, and a departure from routine may have both short- and long-term psychological effects.[5] This, compounded with increasing
financial strain, could have dire consequences. Anecdotal reports have indicated that rates of consumption of alcohol and other addictive substances are on the rise.[6] Furthermore, social distancing measures have
created barriers to accessing treatment, which has only been exacerbated by a scarcity of available providers as they either fall ill or become overloaded with patients.[7]

BHOs are crucial to the provision of behavioral health care to Americans across the country who rely on them for a variety of services, but are being burdened by the pandemic. BHOs may provide counseling services to individuals, families, and children struggling
with depression, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and countless other mental illness. Additionally, licensed practitioners at BHOs may provide lifesaving medication assisted treatment to individuals with opioid and other substance use disorders. Without this
medical treatment, patients in recovery are at higher risk for relapse, overdose, or overdose related death.[8] These services will become all the more important as COVID-19 continues to spread and the need for
mental health disorder and addiction treatment services grows. However, because of the health and economic impacts of the pandemic and the growing number of patients, many BHOs are at risk of closing their doors. Some BHOs have projected nearly $40 billion
in lost revenue as a direct result of increased staff overtime to meet patient need, increased need for PPE, and the implementation of telehealth services.[9] The impact of such a shortfall would be significant,
particularly as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt the lives of all Americans.

BHOs have not been sufficiently included in response efforts to date. Congress has passed three stimulus packages to bolster the nation’s response to COVID-19. However, none have addressed the growing challenge to and need for BHOs. With a growing number
of Americans in need of behavioral health services and many BHOs at risk of closing, the nation is headed towards another public health crisis. To avert another large-scale public health crisis, we must pass a stimulus package that prioritizes the financial
security of these vital health care providers and the health of millions of Americans. As such, we respectfully request that at least $38.5 billion in emergency aid is provided to BHOs that are accredited by an independent, national accrediting organization
or receive state funding or community mental health centers as defined in Section 1913(c) of the Public Health Service Act.[10] This will allow these crucial mental health providers to keep their doors open and
continue providing crucial mental health and addiction treatment services to Americans during these trying times. We are also supportive of efforts, led by our colleagues, to boost critical funding at the Department of Health and Human Services for mental
health initiatives, including the Community Mental Health Services Block Grant, the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, and other Centers for Disease Control, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and Health Resources and Services
Administration programs.

We thank you for your attention to this matter and look forward to working together to ensure that any economic stimulus package provides much needed relief for our nation’s BHOs.

Sincerely,

Elizabeth Warren                                                                    Joseph P. Kennedy, III

United States Senate                                                               Member of Congress

 

Edward J. Markey                                                                   Doris Matsui

United States Senate                                                               Member of Congress

 

Christopher S. Murphy                                                           Paul D. Tonko        

United States Senate                                                               Member of Congress

 


[1] Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, “2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health,” August 2019,

https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/cbhsq reports/NSDUHNationalFindingsReport2018/NSDUHNationalFindingsReport2018.pdf

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Kaiser Family Foundation, “KFF Health Tracking Poll – Early April 2020: The Impact Of Coronavirus On Life In America,” Ashley Kirzinger, Audrey Kearney, Liz Hamel, Mollyann Brodie, April 2, 2020,

https://www.kff.org/health-reform/report/kff-health-tracking-poll-early-april-2020/

[5] CNN, “Long-term social distancing may be traumatic,” Madeline Holcombe, April 12, 2020,

https://www.cnn.com/2020/04/09/health/coronavirus-mental-health-long-term-wellness/index.html

[6] USC News, “COVID-19 drives alcohol sales — and raises concerns about substance abuse,” Gary Polakovic, April 14, 2020,

https://news.usc.edu/168549/covid-19-alcohol-sales-abuse-stress-relapse-usc-experts/
; Newsweek, “U.S. Alcohol Sales Increase 55 Percent In One Week Amid Coronavirus Pandemic,” Jade Bremner, April 1, 2020,

https://www.newsweek.com/us-alcohol-sales-increase-55-percent-one-week-amid-coronavirus-pandemic-1495510

[7] Stat News, “The Covid-19 crisis too few are talking about: health care workers’ mental health,” Jessica Gold, April 3, 2020,

https://www.statnews.com/2020/04/03/the-covid-19-crisis-too-few-are-talking-about-health-care-workers-mental-health/

[8] Food and Drug Administration, “Information about Medication Assisted Treatment,”

https://www.fda.gov/drugs/information-drug-class/information-about-medication-assisted-treatment-mat

[9] American Society of Addiction Medicine, “$38.5 Billion Request to Congress for Emergency Funding to Avert Collapse of Behavioral Health Organizations Nationwide,” April 7, 2020,

https://www.asam.org/docs/default-source/advocacy/letters-and-comments/request-to-congress-for-emergency-funding8b95339472bc604ca5b7ff000030b21a.pdf?sfvrsn=82953c2_2

[10] This eligibility is based on criteria proposed by the Comprehensive Addiction Resources Emergency (CARE) Act.

Related Legislative Issues

Selected legislative information: HealthCare

icon eDC logo e-Dear Colleague version 2.0
 
e-Dear Colleagues are intended for internal House use only.