MIL-OSI USA: Rep. Cleaver Votes for Historic Legislation to Strengthen Mental Health Care, Substance Use Disorder Services

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Source: United States House of Representatives – Congressman Emanuel Cleaver II (5th District Missouri)

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Representative Emanuel Cleaver, II (D-MO) voted in favor of H.R. 7666, the Restoring Hope for Mental Health and Well-Being Act, to strengthen mental health care and provide the resources necessary to address the mental health and substance use disorder crises facing millions of Americans. The historic legislation would support Americans with mental health challenges by strengthening and expanding more than 30 critical programs that collectively support mental health care and substance use disorder prevention, care, treatment, and recovery support services in communities across the United States.

“While the global pandemic has undoubtedly exacerbated the challenge, it’s been clear to anyone paying attention that America is in the midst of a mental health and substance use disorder crisis. Sadly, we still don’t have the necessary mental health care infrastructure to support the millions of Americans who are in need of help. But today the House of Representatives is taking action to change that,” said Congressman Cleaver. “I was proud to support the Restoring Hope for Mental Health and Well-Being Act because it will provide long overdue investments that ensure more Americans will have access to professional mental health and substance use disorder services—which will help to combat the opioid epidemic, a rise in youth suicide, and other increasingly prevalent mental illnesses and disorders. While this won’t solve all of America’s mental health challenges, it will lead to a brighter future for millions of Americans yearning for help.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 50 percent of adults in America will be diagnosed with a mental illness or disorder at some point in their lifetime, and one in five children has or will have a seriously debilitating mental illness. Additionally, more than two million people in the United States have an opioid use disorder and nearly 108,000 Americans died of overdose deaths from 2019 to 2020. Despite these staggering statistics, roughly 122 million Americans live in areas experiencing mental health professional shortages, leading to less than 2 percent of individuals in need of substance use disorder treatment to get the care they need.

The Restoring Hope for Mental Health and Well-Being Act would help to address the mental health and substance use disorder crises by:

  • Expanding more than 30 critical programs that collectively support mental health care and substance use disorder services across the country, including the establishment of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Behavioral Health Crisis Coordination Office, the development of crisis response best practices, additional adult suicide prevention services, treatment for those with serious mental illnesses, support for pregnant or postpartum women, and more. The bill also provides increased investments in the Community Mental Health Services Block Grants so that states, territories, and Tribes can provide additional services for adults and children with serious mental health conditions.
  • Cutting red tape to combat the nation’s opioid epidemic by eliminating the X-waiver, which imposes arbitrary limits on insurance providers’ ability to prescribe buprenorphine, and barriers in access to methadone, another evidence-based treatment for opioid use disorders. Additionally, the legislation enhances training for practitioners who prescribe controlled substances to reduce stigma and increase their ability to identify and treat substance use disorders.
  • Bolstering the behavioral health workforce and increasing access to mental health and substance use disorder care and coverage through additional investments in the Mental and Behavioral Health Education and Training Grants and by integrating behavioral health into primary care.
  • Supporting mental health awareness and substance use disorder prevention for children and young Americans with continued investment in Pediatric Mental Health Care Access Grants and increased support for a plethora of programs intended to provide services for a range of ages and mental health needs, from infant and early childhood mental health promotion to comprehensive community services for children with serious emotional disturbances.
  • Strengthening Medicaid behavioral health services for children by ensuring that state Medicaid programs have the resources needed to implement and build upon telehealth and in-school services that have proven to be effective strategies at increasing children’s access to mental health care. Additionally, the bill would authorize federal Medicaid funding for mental health services for juveniles in pre-trial detention, conduct mental health screening prior to their release, and ensure they are not discharged without linkages to treatment in the community.

Congressman Cleaver has been a longtime supporter of strengthening mental health and substance use disorder services in the Fifth Congressional District of Missouri. Last year, Cleaver re-introduced the Cady Housh and Gemesha Thomas Student Suicide Prevention Act to provide schools, teachers, and students with the tools and knowledge needed to assist children struggling with their mental health. Additionally, Cleaver secured $2.5 million this year to create a state-of-the-art substance use treatment center in the heart of Kansas City’s UMKC Health Sciences District.

Official text of the Restoring Hope for Mental Health and Well-Being Act is available here.

Emanuel Cleaver, II is the U.S. Representative for Missouri’s Fifth Congressional District, which includes Kansas City, Independence, Lee’s Summit, Raytown, Grandview, Sugar Creek, Blue Springs, Grain Valley, Oak Grove, North Kansas City, Gladstone, Claycomo, and all of Ray, Lafayette, and Saline Counties. He is a member of the exclusive House Financial Services Committee; Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Housing, Community Development, and Insurance; member of the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress; member of the Committee on Homeland Security; and a Senior Whip of the Democratic Caucus. A high-resolution photo of Congressman Cleaver is available here.

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