KENNEDY ON HOUSE MENTAL HEALTH BILL: “GOOD BUT NOT GOOD ENOUGH”
Washington, D.C. – Congressman Joe Kennedy III released the following statement in response to passage of mental health legislation in the Energy & Commerce Committee.
“I supported this bill today because it includes several good provisions, including funding for Assertive Community Treatment and my proposal to ensure all kids in Medicaid have access to both physical and mental health care.
“Despite good provisions, however, this bill is not good enough. In particular, the legislation’s failure to address insurance parity leaves in place one of the biggest barriers to treatment that most American families face. No matter what improvements we make to our mental health system, no matter how many resources we commit, if we do not ensure that those suffering from mental illness are treated fairly by their insurance companies then we leave treatment and care out of reach for far too many patients in need. I appreciate Chairman Upton’s promise to hold a hearing dedicated specifically to parity this fall and look forward to working across the aisle to address this significant gap in our efforts to date.
“This bill is a small, bipartisan step forward, which is nothing to take for granted in Congress today. But for the millions of Americans suffering from mental illness and the families that love them, this cannot be the end of the road.”
Since being elected, Congressman Kennedy has been a vocal advocate for systemic reform of the 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, as well as the Fair Care for Kids Act to remove barriers to mental health treatment for children in Medicaid. 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.