Eshoo, Blunt Rochester, Fitzpatrick Introduce Major Bipartisan Bill to Strengthen Children’s Mental Health
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Representatives Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA), Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE), and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) announced the introduction of H.R. 7236, the Strengthen Kids’ Mental Health Now Act, bipartisan legislation to address the growing crisis of children’s mental health in America.
“America’s children are facing a mental health crisis and our nation’s pediatric mental health infrastructure is unable to meet their needs. According to the CDC, nearly 1 in 5 children have a mental, emotional, or behavioral disorder, but only 20% of these children receive care from a specialized mental health care provider,” said Eshoo. “To address this challenge, I’m proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation to bolster our country’s infrastructure for pediatric mental health services, including investing in the expansion of our mental health workforce, improving access to mental health care, and building stronger systems of prevention, early identification, and treatment for children.”
The Strengthen Kids’ Mental Health Now Act will foster improvements across the full continuum of pediatric mental health and substance use disorder care. The bill extends support to communities, schools, and health care providers by matching Medicaid payment rates with Medicare payment rates for pediatric behavioral health services, provide guidance to states to expand access to mental health services, including through telehealth, and provide competitive awards to strengthen and improve the mental health system infrastructure and workforce.
“As we emerge from the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic, we know that there is another burgeoning health crisis that requires the immediate attention of Congress and the nation,” said Rep. Blunt Rochester. “Investing in mental health care for our children who have dealt with so much over the last few years is critically important. That’s why I’m proud to introduce the Strengthen Kids’ Mental Health Now Act of 2022 along with my colleagues, Chairwoman Eshoo and Rep. Fitzpatrick. Our bill will take a big-picture approach to mental health care and give our kids the resources they need.”
“It is time for Congress to address the mental health crisis, particularly the barriers to accessing mental and behavioral health care that exist for children and their families,” said Rep. Fitzpatrick. “As Co-Chair of the Bipartisan Mental Health and Addiction Task Force, I am proud to support the bipartisan Strengthen Kids’ Mental Health Now Act. The children of our great nation are our future, and it is our duty to ensure that they have access to the care they need so that they can thrive and reach their full potential.”
“Rep. Eshoo’s comprehensive bill ‘Strengthening Kids’ Mental Health Now’, seeks to increase children’s access to mental health services and build capacity to care for teens and adolescents who need this help particularly for those children in communities who are under resourced for mental health support,” said Paul King, president and CEO Stanford Children’s Health.
“Today's pediatric mental health system is fragmented and insufficiently structured to meet the needs of children struggling with mental health challenges,” said Amy Wimpey Knight, president of Children’s Hospital Association. “We commend Reps. Eshoo, Fitzpatrick and Blunt Rochester for recognizing the unique mental health needs of children and the steady increase in demand that has occurred over the past decade. This legislation takes concrete steps to expand access to mental health services and build greater mental health capacity – supporting programs and people. Children’s hospitals continue to see surges of children who need immediate help, and we urge Congress to come together to take meaningful action for our children and youth.”
Text of the Strengthen Kids’ Mental Health Now Act can be found here.