Mental Health Reform Reauthorization Act sponsored by Cassidy

A comprehensive bipartisan bill sponsored on Tuesday by U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) would reauthorize critical federal mental health programs that are set to expire in September.

The Mental Health Reform Reauthorization Act of 2022, S. 4170, which is cosponsored by U.S. Sen. Christopher Murphy (D-CT), would reauthorize the federal mental health and substance use disorder programs that were signed into law in 2016 as part of the lawmakers’ Mental Health Reform Act.

If enacted, S. 4170 also would address COVID-19’s impact on the national mental health crisis, especially among children, by building upon the 2016 legislation to improve and expand those programs, according to a bill summary provided by Sen. Cassidy’s staff. 

“We all have loved ones affected by mental illness. The pandemic intensified our mental health crisis, especially amongst our children,” Sen. Cassidy said. “Our bill preserves and improves upon the resources that have been a lifeline to so many Americans over the past five years.”

Additionally, S. 4170 would strengthen existing mental health and substance use disorder parity laws by authorizing $25 million to support states’ ability to enforce existing laws around mental health and substance use disorder parity and prevent health insurance plans that cover frontline workers from refusing to provide parity coverage, the summary says.

“Our new bill goes further than just reauthorization,” said Sen. Murphy. “It doubles down on strengthening parity protections and expanding access to pediatric mental health. There’s no time to waste.”

Among numerous provisions, S. 4170 also would authorize a significant increase in Mental Health Services Block Grant funding for states; promote increased mental health care access in schools and emergency departments; expand training in behavioral health for pediatricians and other primary care providers who treat children and adolescents; and increase recruitment of a diverse mental health workforce, says the summary.

The bill is endorsed by numerous organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics; the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention; the American Psychiatric Association; the Behavioral Health Association of Providers; the Bipartisan Policy Center; the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance; Mental Health America; the National Association for Behavioral Healthcare; the Partnership to End Addiction; and the Schizophrenia & Psychosis Action Alliance, among many others.