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Senate Finance Committee Releases Policy Ideas for Mental Health Access

The latest discussion draft of the Senate Finance Committee’s bipartisan mental health package focuses on integrating primary and mental health care as well as expanded access to crisis and follow up care. 

HR Policy sent a statement to the committee earlier this year recommending any legislation include funding for integrated care, specifically the Collaborative Care Model, and remove barriers employers face in expanding telehealth offerings to employees. 

Civil monetary penalties against employers are not included in the draft. HR Policy has opposed the application of civil monetary penalties against employers for mental health parity violations until the Department of Labor publishes the additional guidance to employers that is required by the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021.

The discussion drafts includes, among other provisions:

  • Increased payment rates for providers that integrate primary care services with mental health services;

  • A requirement for CMS to create best practices around integrating mental health services and primary care;

  • Support for the development of Medicare quality measures to assess the level of integration between primary care and mental health providers; and

  • Technical assistance to primary care providers that are seeking to utilize integrated models.

Outlook: This is the fourth discussion draft released by the Senate Finance Committee, with previous drafts focused on telehealth expansion, youth mental health and expanding the mental health workforce. Future discussion drafts could include HR Policy-opposed provisions such as civil monetary penalties. Committee Chair Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Ranking Member Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID) have both stated the final legislation will be fully paid for through bipartisan offsets.

Published on: November 11, 2022

Authors: Margaret Faso

Topics: Employee Wellbeing, Wellness

Margaret Faso

Director of Health Care Research and Policy, American Health Policy Institute and HR Policy Association

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Contact Margaret Faso LinkedIn

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