February 06, 2014
Sean Neary/Lindsey Held (Baucus): (202) 224-4515
Antonia Ferrier/Julia Lawless (Hatch): (202) 224-4515
Baucus, Hatch Thank Mental Health Community For Input on Improving Care
Finance Leaders Welcome Important Contributions from Hundreds of Stakeholders
WASHINGTON –Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Ranking Member Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) today thanked the mental health community for their responses on how to improve the mental health system in America. Last August, the senators sent an open letter requesting stakeholders identify problems and potential improvements to the mental and behavioral health care system.
“Senator Hatch and I are grateful for the sensible and thorough responses to our call for input on this critical issue,” Senator Baucus said. “Millions of Americans struggle every day with mental illness. The recommendations we’ve received from the mental health community can help further enhance the programs that serve some of our nation’s most vulnerable citizens.”
“Thanks to the critical insight and recommendations from experts within the mental health community, we now have a better understanding of how we can strengthen and improve programs that serve the millions of Americans and families coping with a mental illness today,” said Hatch. “I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues in Congress and experts in the field to advance common-sense initiatives that will further break down barriers and increase patient access to high quality treatment and care.”
A summary and overview of the responses can be found here.
The full text of the senators’ letter is below:
February 6, 2014
Dear Mental Health Community,
Thank you for all your thoughtful and well-reasoned responses to our call for input on how to improve the mental health system in America. We received one hundred seventy-five letters from two hundred forty-two interested stakeholders. Although the responses reflected the diversity of opinions within the mental health community, one aspect rang true throughout: we can improve quality and lower costs by making some thoughtful changes.
Certainly, there is not one single means to achieve this objective. However, with improved care integration, better access to mental health care providers, and streamlined federal rules, we can improve the quality of care for millions of Americans. Every day more Americans enter the mental health care system. Although individual needs vary widely, a system that operates at an optimal level would allow everyone to receive high-quality, comprehensive care. Such a system would also ensure that individuals with behavioral health needs are able to continue to live and work in the community. This outcome is not only favorable for those afflicted with mental illness, but it is also beneficial to the American economy—likely reducing the $193 billion in annual lost earnings caused by mental illness.
Whether it is the veteran who defended our nation abroad or the college student struggling in their dormitory room, all Americans deserve the ability to access high quality mental health care. To this end, we hope that this overview of the recommendations you gave us can serve as a meaningful starting point to achieving our greater goal.
Thank you for your responses and for your all your work on behalf of the mental health community. We look forward to our continued work together.
Chairman, Senate Finance Committee
Ranking Member, Senate Finance Committee