APA CEO Arthur C. Evans Jr., PhD, testified June 30 before the Health subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing that examined several pieces of legislation to improve access to mental health services amid the COVID-19 public health crisis. Many of APA’s priority bills were considered by the subcommittee, including:
- H.R. 884, the Medicare Mental Health Access Act, which would establish independent practice authority for Medicare psychologists in all treatment settings;
- H.R. 1109, the Mental Health Services for Students Act, which would expand access to mental health services by school-age children;
- H.R. 2874, the Behavioral Health Coverage Transparency Act, and H.R. 3165, the Mental Health Parity Compliance Act, to make it easier to determine if health plans are meeting the requirements of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, and strengthen compliance;
- H.R. 5201, the Telemental Health Expansion Act, to permanently remove geographic limitations on Medicare coverage of mental health services provided through telehealth, and allow the patient’s home to be an originating site; and
- H.R. 5469, the Pursuing Equity in Mental Health Act, which would address racial and ethnic disparities in accessing mental health services and increase authorized funding for the Minority Fellowship Program.
Evans testified in support of these bills and several others, highlighting the urgent need to address the synergistic epidemic (or “syndemic”) of the colliding crises of the COVID-19 pandemic, racism, opioid and substance use disorders, and a “preexisting crisis of mental health.” Evans also submitted written testimony to the subcommittee.