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Ways and Means Republicans Lead Package of Bipartisan Mental Health Bills

September 23, 2022 — Blog    — Health    — Markup    — Press Releases   

Ways and Means Republican Members introduced a package of mental health bills to close gaps in mental health care, improve our current system to work better for patients, reduce physician burnout, protect consumers, and bring more openness into the system.


Improvements to Medicare inpatient and outpatient mental health services (Committee Print #1)

  • H.R. 8879, Inpatient Psychiatric Facility Improvement Act (Reps. Arrington and Evans)
    • Charge the Secretary to improve the Inpatient Psych Facility payment system to deliver better care and more accurate payments.


“CMS cannot continue to utilize a payment model that is nearly 20 years old and assume it accurately reflects patient costs, especially for a population with needs as acute and diverse as those receiving care at Inpatient Psychiatric Facilities (IPFs),” said Rep. Jodey Arrington (R-TX), “Over a decade of data and outside examination have shown not only flaws in the model but high rates of expensive readmissions. The I.P.F. Improvement Act represents our fiduciary responsibility to both taxpayers and patients receiving care in these facilities. I am glad to join my colleague Rep. Evans in this important effort.”


  • H.R. 8878, Intensive Outpatient Policy (Reps. A. Smith, Chu, Pascrell)
    • To ensure patients can access the treatment options that are most appropriate for their care needs, we add more treatment options between traditional outpatient therapy and full inpatient care.


“As mental health care has trended away from psychiatric hospitals toward community-based outpatient care, many rural areas have lost access to care options in both settings. While advancements in medical knowledge and technology have allowed more mental health care services to be delivered in outpatient settings, including some intensive care, Medicare coverage has not always kept pace,” said Rep. Adrian Smith (R-NE). “This bipartisan bill brings new flexibilities in coverage to match how care is being delivered and represents a step forward in Medicare modernization, completing the spectrum of mental health care options to allow resources to be more effectively utilized. Most importantly, this bill will help provide seniors increased access to the care they need. I thank my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for working with me on this important legislation.”


Improvements to the Medicare program related to physician services and education (Committee Print #2)

  • H.R. 432, Mental Health Access Improvement Act (Rep. Mike Thompson, previously introduced)
    • Add marriage and family therapists and mental health counselors as
    • providers in Medicare to improve beneficiary access to the services they can provide.
  • H.R. 8910, Behavioral Health Integration Awareness Act (Reps. J. Smith, Ferguson, and Schneider)
    • Direct the Secretary to better inform providers on how to best use underutilized Behavioral Health Integration services already covered by Medicare to better treat patients. These are services that integrate behavioral health care with primary care by performing mental health screenings and working to monitor and facilitate any further treatment.


“I’m glad that the Ways and Means Committee came together to pass real, bipartisan solutions to help address the mental health challenges facing our communities, including the lack of access to treatment services in rural areas,” said Rep. Jason Smith (R-MO). “This legislative package takes a thoughtful, targeted approach and can make a significant impact on those providing and receiving mental and behavioral health treatment. I’m also pleased we were able to honor our dear friend and colleague Jackie Walorski by advancing her legislation to reauthorize a program with a proven track record of protecting the well-being of our nation’s children and families, including hundreds in my district. I’ll continue advocating for policies and legislation that will expand access to mental and behavioral health treatment in rural and underserved areas.


“The mental health crisis impacts every socioeconomic group and there is not a demographic or community across the country that hasn’t been impacted by this,” said Rep. Drew Ferguson (R-GA). “I’m proud to work on this bipartisan initiative to introduce the Behavioral Health Integration Awareness Act to increase access to underutilized mental health services that are available to patients who would greatly benefit from them. This bill, along with the Mental Health Package passed out of Committee, will be extremely important in our efforts to combat this country’s mental health crisis.”


  • H.R. 8884, Medicare Opioid Use Disorder Outreach Act (Reps. Kelly and Higgins)
    • Improve the rate of opioid use disorder treatment by enhancing outreach to providers and patients about underutilized treatment options Medicare already covers.


“Very sadly, communities across the country are all too familiar with the opioid crisis that continues to plague our nation. Watching a neighbor or loved one suffer from a substance use crisis is hard enough. Struggling to get treatment from providers when the existing coverage and service options are unclear is even harder”, Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA) said. “This bill provides doctors and their patients with the tools they need so our communities can heal. I am proud to lead the Medicare Opioid Use Disorder Outreach Act and look forward to working with my colleagues to advance this bipartisan legislation.”


  • H.R. 8890, Physician Wellness Program Act (Reps. Murphy, Ruiz, Beyer, and
  • Bucshon)
    • Help address physician burnout by removing regulatory barriers that prevent hospitals from offering wellness benefits to all their providers, whether directly employed or contracted.


“This bipartisan mental health package is a major step forward as we work to enact serious mental health reform in America,” said Rep. Greg Murphy, M.D. (NC-3). “I’m particularly proud that my bill, H.R. 8890, the Physician Wellness Program Act which I introduced alongside Reps. Ruiz, Bucshon, and Beyer, is included in this package to address physician burnout and ensure our communities continue to receive world-class care. As a physician, I am confident that the Ways and Means Committee’s comprehensive plan will improve access to mental health care, close gaps in services and network coverage, and empower patients with added transparency and accessibility.”


  • H.R. 8908, Fighting Stimulant and other Substance Use Disorders Act (Reps. Estes and Panetta)
    • Unlike opioids, there is no drug to treat addiction to methamphetamine, cocaine, and other stimulants. Instead, providers use an incentives-based treatment called contingency management therapy. This bill directs the Administration to consider changes to regulatory barriers and provide further recommendations to Congress to ensure beneficiaries have access to this evidence-based treatment option.


“In Kansas and throughout the country, mental health continues to ravage families and communities, and it’s tragically getting worse. Doctors and nurses are doing everything they can to help struggling patients, but they also need common sense policies from Washington that will help the crisis – not make it worse,” said Rep. Ron Estes (R-KS). “The Fighting Stimulant and Other Substance Use Disorders Act is common sense legislation that tasks Health and Human Services to review evidence-based contingency management incentives so that we can remove a barrier that’s shutting out patients from an effective treatment while also ensuring safeguards against fraud and abuse.”


Requiring coverage of forensic medical exams with no cost sharing (Committee Print #3)

  • H.R. 8891, No Surprises for Survivors Act (Reps. Miller, Sanchez, and Moore)
    • Protect victims of sexual assault from cost-sharing associated with treatment relating to their assault and getting a forensic exam to determine assault.


“Sexual assault is one of the most abhorrent acts of violence a woman can experience,” said Rep. Carol Miller (R-WV). “It is unacceptable for any sexual assault victim to receive a bill for a forensic medical exam, which is critical to ensuring their recovery and collecting any evidence needed for an investigation. This commonsense, bipartisan legislation will protect victims and ensure no woman who experiences sexual violence has to pay a dime for a forensic medical exam.”


Improved information in provider directories, plan

definitions, and crisis services for private insurance plans (Committee Print #4)

  • H.R. 8885, Better Health Care Directories Act (Reps. Wenstrup, Hern, and Kildee)
    • Build on the improvements we made to provider directories in the No Surprises Act by requiring providers to inform health plans if they are accepting new patients.


“As a physician, I would sometimes have patients come into my office crying because their insurance said that our practice was in-network, even though we were not. That’s a position no patient should ever be put in,” said Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-OH). “I’m pleased that this legislation will ensure that patients have transparent access to information about whether a provider is accepting new patients and whether telehealth appointments are available, building off bipartisan legislation I championed with Rep. Larson, (D-CT) that was ultimately passed into law, the Know Your Provider Act of 2020, to ensure patients have access to up-to-date information on the providers within their insurance companies. This legislation continues the bipartisan work of the Ways and Means Committee to empower patients with the knowledge and tools they need to make the best decisions for their health and well-being.”


“Patients deserve transparency so they can seek out affordable, high-quality medical care,” said Rep. Kevin Hern (R-OK). “I’m proud to work with Dr. Wenstrup and Congressman Kildee to introduce the Better Directories Act, and I’m glad to see it earn bipartisan support at the committee level!”


  • H.R. 8886, Promoting Clarity in Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder

Treatment Act (Reps. Schweikert and Moore)

  • A requirement on private insurance plans to provide consumers with more, standardized data about their mental health benefits.


“Improving the quality of and access to healthcare should be a priority of this Congress. And there’s no question that provisions for mental healthcare and substance use disorder should be included in these improvements,” said Rep. David Schweikert (R-AZ). “I’m proud to have worked with my colleagues on this critical bipartisan package to ensure that those in need of treatment are provided the quality care they deserve.”


  • H.R. 8892, Access to Mental Health Services Act (Reps. LaHood, Kustoff, and Sewell)
    • Report and outreach to providers to ensure crisis mental health services are included in surprise billing protections.


“Mental and behavioral health services are critical components of our health care system, and Congress can do more to ensure patients better understand their access to these services, especially in rural communities like those in the 18th District of Illinois,” said Rep. Darin LaHood (R-IL). “This bipartisan bill will help mental and behavioral health care providers to better treat patients and increase access to mental health care services, particularly in situations of mental health crisis care, while also protecting patients from surprise medical billing. On the Ways and Means Committee, I will continue to be an advocate for our mental and behavioral health care providers and patients in central and west-central Illinois.”


“It is crucial that Americans have access to mental health and substance use disorder crisis services,” said Rep. David Kustoff (R-TN). “I am pleased to join Representatives LaHood and Sewell in introducing the Access to Mental Health Services Act of 2022, a bipartisan bill to help break down barriers to mental health services and support patients and healthcare providers across the country. This legislation will heighten the awareness and availability of these essential services for individuals who are struggling with their own mental health. I urge my colleagues to support this important bill.”


Improved information for network coverage and plan documents in private insurance plans (Committee Print #5)

  • H.R. 8881, Mental Health Transparency Act (Reps. Buchanan and Horsford)
    • Have the government evaluate health plans on the adequacy of their
    • mental health provider networks.


“I thank my colleagues for their support of my bill, the Mental Health Transparency Act, to provide some much-needed clarity about mental health services and providers available to people with private insurance,” Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL) said. “When a staggering 42 percent of Americans seeking care report they are unable to access critical mental health services, it’s clear we need to be doing much more to help those suffering in silence.”


  • H.R. 8889, RICE (Readable Insurance Coverage Enhancement) Act (Reps. Rice, Smucker, Rice, Plaskett)
    • Require health plans to submit machine-readable files describing their

mental health/SUD benefits so academics and app developers can easily compare and contrast plans.


“It’s important for every American to know their options for private health insurance,” said Rep. Tom Rice (R-SC). “This bill improves oversight on private insurance plans in order to provide greater accessibility and comprehension to consumers. By making it easier for app developers, researchers, and non-profits to compile and compare benefits, patients will have more resources available to give them the confidence to enroll in the plan that works best for them.”

“Consumers can’t make informed health insurance decisions without understanding plans’ benefits and coverage. This bill takes commonsense steps to make that information more widely available and easily comprehensible.” said Rep. Lloyd Smucker (R-PA).