Matsui Leads Bipartisan Letter to Speaker Pelosi Requesting Coronavirus Response Address Mental Health

Amid conversations for 3rd coronavirus supplemental package, members request support for mental health services

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WASHINGTON, D.C., March 19, 2020 | George Hatamiya (916-201-5412) | comments

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Doris Matsui, along with Representatives Paul D. Tonko, Joseph P. Kennedy, III and Scott Peters led a letter signed by 74 bipartisan members that was sent to House leadership today – requesting that the next coronavirus response package address the mental health challenges associated with this public health crisis.

“We must meet the challenges of the COVID-19 outbreak with a comprehensive health care strategy that prioritizes the physical and mental health of all Americans,” said Congresswoman Matsui. “During this time of crisis, emergency departments are likely be at full capacity. Our community-based behavioral health centers are providing 24/7 crisis care and telemedicine services – freeing up hospital beds needed to treat coronavirus patients. Directing federal resources to preserve the vital role community-based behavioral health centers play in providing comprehensive mental health and addiction care is critical to ensuring our response to this pandemic does not overlook the mental health needs of Americans.”

“The threat of coronavirus has instilled in so many of us an unprecedented feeling of fear and anxiety and for those living with a mental illness, this stress may be magnified,” said Congressman Tonko. “As we work to tackle this public health crisis, we must also ensure that every American is provided the services they need to have peace of mind in this time of incredible uncertainty. My colleagues and I urge Congress to include mental health services in the next coronavirus response package. I promise to continue fighting for these essential provisions that will support our friends, family and neighbors.”

“For patients battling mental health challenges and substance use disorders, an unprecedented public health pandemic combined with increased isolation and limited access to care can cause immense pain and suffering,” said Congressman Kennedy. “In this moment, we should ensure the full weight of the federal government is being used to protect the millions of Americans in need of behavioral health care.”

“This public health crisis is a burden that we all feel – our families, workers, business owners, and of course, public health professionals. We know it will have lasting effects on not just those who have contracted the coronavirus, but all who face economic uncertainty and potential financial devastation in the weeks and months to come,” said Congressman Peters. “As Congress considers a comprehensive package to address both health and economic conditions, we must not forget the heavy toll that this period of uncertainty will place on the mental health of San Diego families, children, caregivers, doctors and nurses, and employees and employers alike.”

The letter, submitted to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, asks that the following provisions are considered for the third coronavirus supplemental:

  • $10 million in supplemental appropriation for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline in FY20
  • $3 million supplemental appropriation for the National Child Traumatic Stress Network in FY20
  • Inclusion of H.R. 1767—the Excellence in Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Expansion Act
  • Inclusion of H.R. 1920 - the Medicaid BUMP Act, which would leverage Medicaid’s role and create an enhanced federal Medicaid assistance percentage (FMAP) match for mental and behavioral health services 
  • Contain a provision allowing college student mental health and medical professionals to practice across state lines for a period of 6 months, allowing students to continue to receive care and counselling despite college and university campus closures
  • Include provisions addressing youth suicide

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