Senate HELP Committee approves Mental Health Reform Act
AHA News Now
Mar 16, 2016
The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee today approved the Mental Health Reform Act (S. 2680). Among other provisions, the bill would establish a chief medical officer at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to promote the use of evidence-based practices and require the agency to report on progress toward strategic priorities. It also would require the Health and Human Services secretary to issue guidance to health plans on mental health parity protections, and training and resources for care providers and patients on sharing protected health information. The committee also approved four bills aimed at preventing opioid abuse and overdoses. The legislation could be considered on the Senate floor next month, along with additional amendments. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) said she plans to work with the Senate Finance Committee and sponsors of the bill to offer an amendment to address the Medicaid exclusion for “institutions for mental disease,” which excludes coverage for inpatient psychiatric services furnished to adult beneficiaries under age 65. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) also plans to pursue amendments to increase access to child psychiatrists through the National Health Service Corps, and create a pilot program to help behavioral health providers invest in health information technology and exchange information electronically with other providers.