April 29, 2020

In Bipartisan Letter, Lawmakers Seek Emergency Funding for Behavioral Health Organizations in Next Coronavirus Stimulus Package

BHOs Nationwide are at Risk of Closing Due to COVID-19 Pandemic, Endangering Those Who Rely on Their Services

Text of Letter (PDF)

Washington, DC - United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Congressman Joe Kennedy III (D-MA-04), along with Senators Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI); and Representatives Doris Matsui (D-CA-06), Paul Tonko (D-NY-20), John Katko (R-NY-24) and 68 of their Senate and House colleagues, sent a letter to Congressional leadership requesting emergency funding for mental health disorder and addiction treatment providers as the nation grapples with the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. With many behavioral health organizations (BHOs) at risk of closing their doors as a result of the pandemic, the bipartisan group of lawmakers is seeking at least $38.5 billion for BHOs across the country in the next COVID-19 stimulus package.

"With a growing number of Americans in need of behavioral health services and many BHOs at risk of closing, the nation is headed towards another public health crisis," the lawmakers wrote. "To avert another large-scale public health crisis, we must pass a stimulus package that prioritizes the financial security of these vital health care providers and the health of millions of Americans."

Millions of Americans struggle with mental health or addiction disorders and rely on services provided by BHOs. BHO soffer counseling services to individuals, children, and families across the country  that struggle with depression, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and countless other mental illnesses. Additionally, licensed practitioners at BHOs may provide lifesaving medication assisted treatment to individuals with opioid and other substance use disorders. However, despite the health and economic impacts of the pandemic and the growing number of patients seeking counseling services, BHOs are projected to lose nearly $40 billion in revenue as a direct result of increased staff overtime to meet patient need, increased need for PPE, and the implementation of telehealth services.

In their letter, the lawmakers noted that the number of Americans struggling with mental illness will only continue to grow as families and individuals face the emotional and economic repercussions of the pandemic and called on Senate and House leadership to provide BHOs with at least $38.5 billion in direct emergency funding so that they may continue to provide critical services to the countless people who rely on them.

"This will allow these critical mental health and addiction treatment providers to keep their doors open and continue providing crucial treatment to Americans during these trying times.," the lawmakers continued.

The lawmakers also expressed support for efforts led by their colleagues to boost critical funding at the Department of Health and Human Services for mental and behavioral health initiatives, including the Community Mental Health Services Block Grant, the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, and other Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Indian Health Service, and Health Resources and Services Administration programs.