The FINANCIAL -- The U.S. House of Representatives today passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) a $2 trillion stimulus aid package to provide fiscal relief for Americans and businesses in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill, which passed the Senate Wednesday, includes many provisions supported by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) that will enable health care professionals and communities to better respond to the pandemic, including some that will bolster mental health care.
“You can’t have a healthy economy without healthy people—and that includes mental health,” said APA President Bruce Schwartz, M.D. “This stimulus bill will strengthen our ability to help the millions of Americans with existing mental illnesses or substance use disorders, and more with emerging mental health issues as the pandemic unfolds. This is a promising development in the nation’s efforts to fight the impact of COVID-19.”
Among the provisions of the bill that APA supports are:
$425 million for Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) programs, including:
$250 million for Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics
$50 million for suicide prevention programs
$100 million for mental health and substance use disorder emergency grants
$4 billion for community health centers, which is $1.32 billion over current fiscal year 2020 funding levels.
A repeal of the Medicare requirement that only allows a health care professional to see a patient via telemedicine if they have previously seen that patient within the past three years.
An alignment of 42 CFR Part II with HIPAA to allow sharing of substance use disorder records with health care professionals.
Suspension of the 2% Medicare sequester cut through December 2020.
The bill will also increase the national stockpile of personal protective equipment for front-line medical responders facing the COVID crisis.
“As we respond to one of the largest public health threats facing our country in decades, funding for behavioral health initiatives and expanding telemedicine are critical,” said APA CEO and Medical Director Saul Levin, M.D., M.P.A. “We strongly believe that the federal and state governments will need to continue to support physicians, who will be working long hours and in many cases risking their own health, as we continue to address this pandemic.”
American Psychiatric Association
The American Psychiatric Association, founded in 1844, is the oldest medical association in the country.
Before the coronavirus, telework was an optional benefit, mostly for the affluent few, Pew research