August 05,2021

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Taylor Harvey 202-224-4515

Wyden and Crapo Launch Finance Effort to Address Barriers to Mental Health Care

Letter to Finance Members Kicks Off Bipartisan Legislative Process

Washington, D.C. – Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Finance Ranking Member Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, today launched an effort to develop bipartisan legislation to address barriers to mental health care as the COVID-19 pandemic has worsened alarming trends in Americans’ mental health care.

“Far too often, Americans face barriers to obtaining timely, high-quality mental health care services,” Wyden and Crapo wrote to members of the Senate Finance Committee. “Chairman Wyden and Ranking Member Crapo invite all interested Committee Members to contribute to a bipartisan Finance Committee effort on addressing barriers to mental health care. We will review current law, evaluate policy options, and develop bipartisan legislative solutions that will be considered by the full Committee. The goal is to develop a bipartisan legislative package that can be introduced and marked up this year.” 

Wyden and Crapo requested input from Finance Committee members on all areas relating to mental health care, but in particular:

  • Addressing the behavioral health workforce shortage
  • Supporting care integration, access and coordination efforts
  • Improving oversight, data reporting and enforcement of mental health parity laws
  • Expanding access to telehealth services for behavioral health care

The letter comes as Americans’ mental health, as well as their access to mental health care, has worsened in recent years, particularly in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Reports of anxiety and depression among adults have quadrupled, overdose deaths have increased by 30 percent and pediatric emergency department visits for mental health emergencies have risen significantly. Meanwhile, less than half of adults with mental health illness and 40 percent of children with depression receive treatment.

The Finance leaders also signaled that a separate request for public- and private-sector stakeholder input would be forthcoming later this month.

The full letter can be found here.