SENATOR DEBBIE STABENOW
U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Chairwoman of the U.S. Senate Finance Subcommittee on Health Care, and Senator Steve Daines (R-MT), Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Finance Subcommittee on Health Care, introduced five bills as part of the Finance Committee’s bipartisan mental health initiative. The bills will expand the mental health workforce to make it easier for Americans to get mental health and substance use disorder care when they need it. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), a longtime leader of the effort to expand graduate medical education, who secured 1,000 new slots in the FY21 spending deal, is a co-lead on the Training Psychiatrists for the Future Act.
“Earlier this year, we came together to pass transformative community mental health care for the country. These bipartisan bills take important steps to invest in the workforce that is needed to achieve our goals of quality mental health and addiction services for all Americans who need them,” said Senator Stabenow.
“Access to mental health services is critical for our rural communities and veterans — especially in states like Montana where suicide is sadly taking too many lives. We must ensure our health care workforce have the tools and resources they need to serve Montanans across our state. I’m glad to work on these bipartisan bills to empower and expand the mental health care workforce which will help ensure that no matter where you live, you have access to life-saving mental health services,” said Senator Daines.
“The pandemic has shone a light on the mental health crisis across our nation and the lack of physician providers to address the issue,” said Senator Menendez. “But the fact is – mental health illnesses and a national physician shortage existed well before the pandemic and the time has come to address this issue. If we don’t act now to significantly increase the number of medical school students and physician residents in the training pipeline, we won’t be able to properly care and treat those living with mental health illnesses. I appreciate working with Senators Stabenow and Daines on this bill and urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support this commonsense piece of legislation”
The bills introduced by Senators Stabenow and Daines include:
- Training Psychiatrists for the Future Act: This bill will add 400 new physician residency positions per year funded by Medicare to teaching hospitals for training new physicians in psychiatry and psychiatry subspecialties.
- More Behavioral Health Providers Act: This legislation will expand Medicare’s Health Professional Shortage Area bonus program to attract more mental health care providers to shortage areas, including many rural communities.
- Expand Qualified Psychologist Services Act: This legislation will make it easier for patients to see psychologist trainees by providing flexibility in Medicare’s direct supervision requirements.
- Protect our Physicians Act: This bill will expand mental health and wellness programs for physicians suffering from burnout.
- Expand the Behavioral Health Workforce Now Act: This legislation will require Medicaid to produce new guidance to states on increasing the mental health workforce.
Senators Stabenow and Daines have been partnering to find bipartisan solutions to treat and fund behavioral health. Last year, the Senators held the first Finance Health Care Subcommittee hearing of the 117th Congress focused on the growing need for mental health and addiction services during the COVID-19 crisis and beyond.