Published on: October 29, 2021
Authors: Margaret Fasoresponse to a Senate Finance Committee request for information on legislative proposals aimed at improving access to mental health and substance use disorder care.
The Senate Finance Committee aims to introduce a bipartisan legislative package addressing behavioral health care challenges. The RFI asked stakeholders to outline the challenges they face in accessing or providing behavioral health care and policy recommendations on how to address these challenges.
Our comments focused on the five reform areas HR Policy is currently working on with The Path Forward:
- Improving access to in-network behavioral health specialists.
- Expanding mental health/substance-use disorder screening and monitoring through measurement-based care (MBC).
- Expanding integration of behavioral health care into primary care settings through implementation of the Collaborative Care model.
- Improving and expand the use of telebehavioral health.
- Achieving mental health parity without imposing civil monetary penalties on employers.
HR Policy stressed our opposition to the enactment of civil monetary penalties stating, “Employers work hard to provide high quality mental health and substance use disorder coverage to employees and their families, however, the mental health crisis is the result of a complicated combination of stigma, limited access, and inconsistent use of evidence-based behavioral health practices. To achieve significant improvements, Congress should focus on fostering partnerships between employers, providers, and carriers rather than punitive legislative provisions which further push stakeholders into their respective corners.”
The Path Forward is a disciplined, private sector approach to systematically and measurably accelerate implementation of five proven best practices for increasing access to behavioral health care. HR Policy and the American Health Policy Institute are members of The Path Forward along with the National Alliance of Healthcare Purchasing Coalitions, American Psychiatric Association (APA), APA Foundation Center for Workplace Mental Health, The Bowman Family Foundation, and Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute.