WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Bob Casey (D-PA), Chair of the Senate HELP Subcommittee on Children and Families, and Rob Portman (R-OH) introduced bipartisan legislation – Investing in Kids’ Mental Health Now Act (S.4747) – to address growing concerns surrounding children’s mental health in the United States.
To help address the severe toll that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on children’s mental health, the bill provides pediatric mental health care providers with additional resources – a one-year Medicaid funding increase through an enhanced Federal Medical Assistance Percentages (FMAP). Pediatric mental, emotional, and behavioral health care providers serving Medicaid patients in participating states will have access to this funding.
“For many young people navigating mental health or substance use disorders, the pandemic exacerbated the everyday challenges they face. We owe it to our children to ensure they’re getting the mental health care they need as they navigate childhood and adolescence. This bill will break down barriers to mental health for children around the country,” said Senator Casey.
“We have a duty to ensure that our nation’s children have the necessary resources to address any mental, emotional, or behavior issues they may experience,” said Senator Portman. “I am pleased to introduce this bipartisan legislation with Senator Casey, to address this gap in pediatric mental health funding, and hope my colleagues in the Senate will join us in this effort.”
“It is hard to overstate the magnitude of the pediatric mental health crisis or the importance of Senator Casey’s leadership in finding real solutions. The Investing in Kids’ Mental Health Now Act will provide crucial support to providers across the pediatric behavioral health workforce and help our children access the full continuum of care that they need to thrive. On behalf of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, thank you to Senators Casey and Portman for introducing this essential piece of bipartisan legislation,” said Tami D. Benton, MD, Psychiatrist-in-Chief, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
“Senators Portman and Casey’s leadership on the bipartisan bill provides a significant step toward the critical investments needed for pediatric mental health and for the specially trained caregivers who support their health and well-being,” said Amy Wimpey Knight, president of Children’s Hospital Association. “The magnitude of the youth mental health crisis requires renewed attention, and we must make purposeful investments in resources to provide life-changing and life-saving care to children and their families. We urge Congress to follow the senators’ leadership and take meaningful action for our children and youth.”
In addition, within one year of enactment, the legislation directs the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to:
- Issue guidance on how to expand mental, emotional and behavioral telehealth services nationwide.
- Issue guidance on best practices to support children in crisis or in need of intensive mental, emotional, or behavioral services.