KENNEDY INTROS BILL TO REMOVE BARRIERS TO MENTAL HEALTH CARE FOR CHILDREN IN MEDICAID
Washington, D.C. – As the House or Representatives considers comprehensive mental health reform this month, Congressman Joe Kennedy III today introduced the Fair Care for Kids Act, which would correct a conflict in current federal law to ensure children covered by Medicaid have access to both the mental and physical health care they need.
Unlike all other Medicaid enrollees under the age of 21, children in certain in-patient psychiatric facilities, known as IMDs, are not guaranteed coverage for both mental and physical health care. This means that while undergoing treatment for mental illness, they must simultaneously forgo needed physical care.
“Forcing a child in need to choose between mental and physical health care is unjust, unfair and unacceptable,” said Congressman Joe Kennedy III. “By removing this discriminatory barrier for our youngest patients, we will not only increase access to care for some of our must vulnerable patient populations, but will increase effectiveness and efficiency through the system. The Fair Care for Kids Act is another step towards closing the devastating gaps in our mental health system that have had tragic consequences for far too many American families.”
Since being elected, Congressman Kennedy has been a vocal advocate for systemic reform of our mental health system and needed investment in the full continuum of care. He has focused on enforcement of mental health parity laws, expanded access to substance abuse treatment, and an improved reimbursement system for providers. Recently, Congressman Kennedy introduced a Medicaid Bump to enhance the federal match for new, state-based mental health spending. He also introduced the Behavioral Health Coverage Transparency Act of 2015, which will hold health insurers accountable for providing adequate mental health benefits and increase transparency for consumers seeking coverage for mental illness and substance use disorders. Additionally, Congressman Kennedy’s bipartisan bill to update best practices for prescribers passed the House of Representatives earlier this month as part of a package of bills to address the opioid crisis.