Tuesday, April 5th, 2022 the Health Subcommittee of the Committee on Energy and Commerce held a hearing on several important bills, including H.R. 7236, the Strengthening Kids’ Mental Health Now Act.

If enacted, H.R. 7236 would expand the availability of mental, emotional, and behavioral health services under the Medicaid program.  This bipartisan legislation would bolster the infrastructure for pediatric mental health services, including investing in the expansion of our mental health workforce, improving access to mental health care, and building stronger systems of prevention, early identification, and treatment for children.  Specifically, the bill extends support to communities, schools, and health care providers by matching Medicaid payment rates with Medicare payment rates for pediatric behavioral health services, provide guidance to states to expand access to mental health services, including through telehealth, and provide competitive awards to strengthen and improve the mental health system infrastructure and workforce.

“America’s children are facing a mental health crisis and our nation’s pediatric mental health infrastructure is unable to meet their needs. According to the CDC, nearly 1 in 5 children have a mental, emotional, or behavioral disorder, but only 20% of these children receive care from a specialized mental health care provider,” said Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, the lead sponsor of H.R. 7236.

“For too long, barriers within the system have hampered or otherwise made it impossible for children to receive behavioral and mental health services,” said Joe Huang-Racalto, VP of Policy and Strategic Partnership for CWLA.  “We applaud Congresswoman Eshoo, Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester, and Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick for recognizing the crisis we are currently in, and we will continue to mobilize our members to advocate for the successful passage H.R. 7236.”

A copy of the bill can be found here.

Click here to watch the hearing, which addressed a total of 19 bills and marked Congress’s first concrete move toward creating a bipartisan package to address growing behavioral health needs.