On January 30th of this year Reps. Doris Matsui, Leonard Lance, Jon Runyan and Paul Tonko sent letters to Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton and Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp asking them to include a 10-state Medicaid demonstration project to expand mental health services to beneficiaries based on the Excellence in Mental Health Act. In the letter they state:
- Specifically, we urge you to include in the SGR a demonstration project based on the Excellence in Mental Health Act (H.R. 1263), which was introduced with bipartisan support in the House and Senate. As you know, during the Senate Finance Committee's consideration of the SGR Repeal and Beneficiary Access Act (S. 1871), an amendment offered by Senators Stabenow, Blunt and Grassley was adopted on a bipartisan voice vote authorizing a 10 state Medicaid demonstration program to increase the availability of a broad range of mental health services including 24-hour crisis beds, targeted case management, and psychiatric rehabilitation.
Passage of this legislation could not be timelier. One-third of those with mood disorders do not receive treatment and fewer than half of those with severe mental disorders receive treatment of any kind in a given year. We know that on average 22 veterans die each day from suicide and 25% of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan experience a mental health condition. These staggering statistics are tragic and unacceptable. It is imperative we provide community level, comprehensive mental health services.
Without access to appropriate treatment, people with mental illness are more likely to experience crises resulting in the overutilization of costly emergency department services. In fact, emerging evidence indicates that the lack of adequate financing for community mental health services directly leads to wasteful federal spending. For example, according to the Agency for Health Research and Quality (AHRQ), 6.4 million visits to hospital emergency departments in 2010 involved patients with mental illness and addiction disorders. Hospital spending to care for these patients is expected to nearly double to $38.5 billion in 2014, up from $20.3 billion in 2003.
- Read the entire letter here.
A big thanks from the Children's Mental Health Network to these members of Congress who are championing improved mental health services in America.
What you can do
The National Council for Behavioral Health has been campaigning hard for bringing attention to the need for passage of the Excellence in Mental Health Act. The Children's Mental Health Network encourages all faithful readers to visit the Council Action Page where in just two minutes you can make your voice heard to members of Congress. Time is of the essence on this one folks.