Key bipartisan bills introduced in the House and Senate provide much-needed investment in the nation's mental health infrastructure for children.
Children's Hospital Association (CHA) endorses these legislative efforts, which would help expand hospitals' capacity to deliver care to meet children's mental and behavioral health needs. Here's more about how these bills would affect care.
Strengthen the workforce and spectrum of care
Introduced by Reps. Anna Eshoo, Brian Fitzpatrick and Lisa Blunt Rochester, the Strengthen Kids' Mental Health Now Act (H.R. 7236) includes reforms and investments that will bolster the pediatric mental health workforce and ensure the availability of a full continuum of care for kids.
These measures will:
- Strengthen support for pediatric mental health through Medicaid and increase reimbursement for pediatric mental health services.
- Guide states toward best practices for improving access to mental, emotional and behavioral health services for children.
- Identify barriers that inhibit providers' ability to increase capacity and expand pediatric mental health services.
The bill would also create new Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) programs focused on:
- Strengthening community-based pediatric mental health services and programs.
- Training, developing and growing the pediatric mental and behavioral health workforce.
- Strengthening critical pediatric mental health infrastructure and expanding mental health care capacity.
The Helping Kids Cope Act of 2021 (H.R. 4944) and the Children's Mental Health Infrastructure Act (H.R. 4943), introduced by Blunt Rochester and Fitzpatrick, make long overdue investments in growing and strengthening the pediatric mental health workforce. These measures also invest in building community-based systems of care for pediatric mental health services, including prevention, early identification and treatment, as well as the infrastructure to support this care.
Improve access, training and capacity
The Health Care Capacity for Pediatric Mental Health Act (S. 4472), introduced by Sens. Bob Casey and Bill Cassidy, will establish three new grant programs at the HRSA focused on urgent needs within pediatric mental and behavioral health care.
These grants will:
- Improve access to community-based pediatric mental health services by enabling support for new programs and policies tailored to meet the health needs of children.
- Expand mental and behavioral health training and support for pediatric mental health professionals.
- Invest in infrastructure to improve capacity to deliver appropriate care for children with intensive treatment needs.
Casey and Sen. Rob Portman also introduced the Investing in Kids' Mental Health Now Act (S. 4747), which would incentivize increased state payment rates for pediatric mental health services covered by Medicaid by providing enhanced federal matching funds. It also includes guidance to better support children's mental health under Medicaid. The bill would:
- Strengthen support for pediatric mental health and workforce through Medicaid.
- Improve timely access to community-based care and telemental health services.
These bills represent positive steps toward addressing the national emergency in children’s mental health. Learn more about CHA's continued advocacy efforts for children's mental health care.