Bill proposed to better coordinate federal response to mental health, substance use crises

New York News

WASHINGTON, DC -FILE by the House. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (NEWS10) — Representatives Paul Tonko (D-NY) and David Trone (D-MD) along with Representatives Tom Emmer (R-MN), Doris Matsui (D-CA), and Tony Cárdenas (D-CA) announced on Thursday that they introduced the Behavioral Health Coordination and Communication Act of 2021. This legislation will address the need for coordinated, evidence-based behavioral health care programs at the federal level.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that over 40% of adults reported exhibiting a new symptom of a mental or behavioral health condition during the COVID-19 pandemic. While programs to address these crises exist at the federal level, they often lack clear, unified direction. This can cause state and local governments to struggle when creating programs to meet their community’s needs and improve access to care. 

“This COVID pandemic has further exposed and—in many cases—worsened gaps in our health care system, particularly for patients living with mental illness or substance use disorders,” said Congressman Tonko. “We cannot let any more of our neighbors, friends and loved ones fall through the cracks because they were denied life-saving care.” 

The Behavioral Health Coordination and Communication Act of 2021 would create an Interagency Coordinator to address the current federal efforts and allow constant communication among all relevant agencies and departments, with the goal of focusing the federal government’s approach to mental health and substance use disorders. 

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