In its first votes on legislation conducted virtually, with members of Congress participating via computer, the House Energy and Commerce Committee approved legislation on July 15 on several important pieces of mental health legislation supported by APA. APA CEO Arthur C. Evans Jr., PhD highlighted several of the bills before the committee in testimony (PDF, 197KB) he gave before the committee’s Health Subcommittee at the end of June.
Among the bills approved by the committee for House floor consideration are:
- H.R. 5201, the "Telemental Health Expansion Act of 2019," which will permanently remove geographic restrictions on the use of telehealth for mental health treatment and allow patients to receive these services from their own homes as an “originating site.” APA submitted a statement of support (PDF, 121KB) of this bill to Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Calif.) on July 14.
- H.R. 7539, the " Strengthening Behavioral Parity Act," which will improve transparency and oversight of health insurance plans' compliance with long-standing federal mental health parity law.
- H.R. 4564 (PDF, 350KB), the "Suicide Prevention Lifeline Improvement Act of 2019"; H.R. 4585 (PDF, 346KB), the "Campaign to Prevent Suicide Act"; and H.R. 5619, the "Suicide Prevention Act " to promote suicide prevention program implementation, research and data collection, and public awareness campaigns.
APA applauds the House Energy and Commerce Committee for approving these bills. The committee may hold an additional markup session in September to discuss other key mental health legislation. APA encourages the committee to approve Medicare Mental Health Access Act (H.R. 884) to allow psychologists to practice independently in all treatment settings and the Mental Health Services for Students Act (H.R. 1109) to improve access to evidence-based mental health treatment for school-age children. In addition, APA supports the passage of the Pursuing Equity in Mental Health Act of 2019 (H.R. 5469) to help address racial and ethnic disparities in access to mental health care that have been exacerbated in recent months by the COVID-19 public health emergency. APA also supports a funding increase for the Minority Fellowship Program to help build a diverse workforce of mental health professionals.
For more information, contact Scott Barstow.