August 3, 2022
WASHINGTON, DC – US Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Bob Casey (D-PA) have introduced their bipartisan legislation – Investing in Kids’ Mental Health Now Act (S.4747) – to address growing concerns surrounding children’s mental health in the United States.
To help address the severe toll that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on children’s mental health, the bill provides pediatric mental health care providers with additional resources – a one-year Medicaid funding increase through an enhanced Federal Medical Assistance Percentages (FMAP). Pediatric mental, emotional, and behavioral health care providers serving Medicaid patients in participating states will have access to this funding.
“We have a duty to ensure that our nation’s children have the necessary resources to address any mental, emotional, or behavior issues they may experience,” said Senator Portman. “I am pleased to introduce this bipartisan legislation with Senator Casey, to address this gap in pediatric mental health funding, and hope my colleagues in the Senate will join us in this effort.”
“For many young people navigating mental health or substance use disorders, the pandemic exacerbated the everyday challenges they face. We owe it to our children to ensure they’re getting the mental health care they need as they navigate childhood and adolescence. This bill will break down barriers to mental health for children around the country,” said Senator Casey.
“We are in the midst of a behavioral health crisis among our youth and simply do not have the workforce or resources to meet demand. Investing in Kids’ Mental Health is critical to the success of our children’s future. We applaud Senators Portman and Casey for taking bipartisan action to support families in desperate need of our help,” said Nick Lashutka, President & CEO, Ohio Children’s Hospital Association.
“Ohio’s children are suffering from a mental health crisis; our emergency room overflows daily with kids that need help. For more than two decades, Senator Portman has been a champion in supporting pediatric mental health. On behalf of the team and patients at Cincinnati Children’s, we are grateful that in his final months in office, he continues to put the children and families of Ohio first. Short term relief in the Medicaid program will have an immediate impact on patients, families and staff. Thank you, Senator Portman, for your action today and for your ongoing support,” said Steve Davis, MD, President & CEO, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.
“Senator Portman’s leadership on the bipartisan bill provides a significant step toward the critical investments needed for pediatric mental health and for the specially trained caregivers who support their health and well-being,” said Amy Wimpey Knight, President of Children’s Hospital Association. “The magnitude of the youth mental health crisis requires renewed attention, and we must make purposeful investments in resources to provide life-changing and life-saving care to children and their families. We urge Congress to follow the senator’s lead and take meaningful action for our children and youth.”
In addition, within one year of enactment, the legislation directs the US Department of Health and Human Services to:
- Issue guidance on how to expand mental, emotional and behavioral telehealth services nationwide.
- Issue guidance on best practices to support children in crisis or in need of intensive mental, emotional, or behavioral services.