Congressman Joe Kennedy

Representing the 4th District of Massachusetts

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KENNEDY ON HOUSE MENTAL HEALTH BILL: “JUST THE FIRST STEP”

Jul 6, 2016
Press Release

Washington, DC – Congressman Joe Kennedy III released the following statement in response to the passage of mental health legislation in the House of Representatives.
 
“After months of debate and negotiations, I applaud the bipartisan passage of a bill that begins to address our broken mental health system. In particular, I am encouraged that the bill included my legislation to end discriminatory barriers to care for children in certain in-patient psychiatric facilities.
 
“But unless we consider this bill as just the first step, the gaping holes that exist in our mental health system today will remain tomorrow. Failure to strengthen our parity laws and holistically reform Medicaid will leave needed treatment out of reach for working families that already disproportionately struggle to access care. 
 
“Passage of this bill is a sign of the bipartisan support that exists to address this crisis. But if we accept this bill as comprehensive or historic, we will fail the millions of Americans battling mental illness and the families that love them.”
 
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. Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton has promised to hold a hearing on this legislation in September.
 
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For Immediate Release:
July 6, 2016
 
Contact:
Emily Kaufman (617) 332-3333
Dan Black (202) 225-5931

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