In Bipartisan Letter, Lawmakers Seek Emergency Funding for Behavioral Health Organizations in Next Coronavirus Stimulus Package

Mental Health and Addiction Providers Nationwide are at Risk of Closing Due to COVID-19 Pandemic, Endangering Those Who Rely on Their Services

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Washington, April 29, 2020 | George Hatamiya (916-201-5412) | comments

Washington, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Doris Matsui (D-CA-06), Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI); along with Representatives Joe Kennedy III (D-MA-04), Paul Tonko (D-NY-20), John Katko (R-NY-24) and 68 of their Senate and House colleagues, sent a letter to Congressional leadership requesting emergency funding for mental health disorder and addiction treatment providers across the country. As the nation grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic, many behavioral health organizations (BHOs) are at risk of closing their doors as a result of the pandemic. The bipartisan group of lawmakers is seeking at least $38.5 billion for BHOs across the country in the next COVID-19 stimulus package.

"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," the lawmakers wrote. "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."

Millions of Americans struggle with mental health or addiction disorders and rely on services provided by community BHOs. These providers offer counseling services to individuals, children, and families across the country that struggle with depression, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and countless other mental illnesses. Additionally, licensed practitioners at BHOs may provide lifesaving medication assisted treatment to individuals with opioid and other substance use disorders. Despite the health and economic impacts of the pandemic and the growing number of patients seeking counseling services, BHOs are projected to lose nearly $40 billion in revenue as a direct result of increased staff overtime to meet patient need, increased need for PPE, and the implementation of telehealth services.

In their letter, the lawmakers noted that the number of Americans struggling with mental illness will only continue to grow as families and individuals face the emotional and economic repercussions of the pandemic. The lawmakers called on Senate and House leadership to provide BHOs with at least $38.5 billion in direct emergency funding so that they may continue to provide critical services to the countless people who rely on them.

"This will allow these critical mental health and addiction treatment providers to keep their doors open and continue providing crucial treatment to Americans during these trying times.," the lawmakers continued.

The lawmakers also expressed support for efforts led by their colleagues to boost critical funding at the Department of Health and Human Services for mental and behavioral health initiatives, including the Community Mental Health Services Block Grant, the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, and other Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Indian Health Service, and Health Resources and Services Administration programs.

Text of Letter (PDF)

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