On Tuesday, February 15th, 2022, the full Senate Finance Committee held a hearing on “Protecting Youth Mental Health: Part II- Identifying and Addressing Barriers to Care,” which continued the conversation and efforts of Congress to address the growing mental health crisis. CWLA previously reported on part one of this series.

The witnesses called to testify were:
Dr. Tami D. Benton, FAACAP, FAAP: Psychiatrist-In-Chief, Executive Director and Chair, Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA
Dr. Sharon Hoover: Professor, Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry; Co-Director of The National Center for School Mental Health University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD
Jodie L. Lubarsky, MA, LCMHC: Vice President of Clinical Operations, Youth and Family Services, Seacoast Mental Health Center, Portsmouth, NH
Trace Terrell: Lead Intervention and Outreach Specialist, YouthLine, La Pine, OR

Members and witnesses continued conversations on several themes that have been raised in previous hearings, such as community-based interventions (and particularly access to mental health care in schools), telehealth, mental health in rural communities, impacts of the pandemic on youth, Medicaid/Medicare reform and increased reimbursement for mental health services, and the epidemic of substance use.

The hearing echoed concerns for the mental health workforce, specifically emphasizing the need for adequate reimbursement for care from Medicaid and Medicare. Dr. Benton stated, “because reimbursement is not what it should be, clinics are running with fewer providers,” which continued the conversation on workforce concerns. She noted that this is an equity concern, as nonprofit providers often serve marginalized communities.

CWLA supports the continued bipartisan efforts of Congress to expand the resources for youth mental health. Last October, CWLA submitted a letter to the Senate Finance Committee addressing numerous concerns surrounding the mental health crisis and its impact on youth and families.