Sending Office: Honorable Joseph P. Kennedy III
Cosign Bipartisan Bicameral Behavioral Health Funding Letter
**Deadline: COB TODAY**
Complete this form to cosign
Current cosigners: Chu, Clay, D. Davis, Dingell, Fitzpatrick, Foster, Hayes, Jackson, E. Johnson, Lee, Kuster, S. Maloney, McBath, McGovern, Napolitano, Norton, Peters, Pingree, K. Rice, Rose, Ryan, Schakowsky, Schneider, Sires,
Soto, Trahan, Trone, Underwood, Van Drew
Representatives Kennedy, Matsui, Tonko, and Katko along with Senators Warren, Markey, Murphy, and Stabenow 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.
Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy, III
Rep. Doris Matsui
Rep. Paul Tonko
Rep. John Katko
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 respectfully request that at least $38.5 billion in emergency aid is provided to
BHOs that can meet at least one of the following three criteria: accredited by an independent, national accrediting organization or receive state funding or qualify as community mental health centers as defined in Section 1913(c) of the Public Health Service
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. 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. Further,
over 20 million Americans are living with substance use disorder, including 2 million who have opioid use disorder.
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. 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. 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. 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.
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. 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. 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. 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.
 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
 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/
 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
 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
 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/
 Food and Drug Administration, “Information about Medication Assisted Treatment,” https://www.fda.gov/drugs/information-drug-class/information-about-medication-assisted-treatment-mat
 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
 This eligibility is based on criteria proposed by the Comprehensive Addiction Resources Emergency (CARE) Act.
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