Despite a divided Congress next year, there are some public health measures a Republican-controlled House and a Democratic-controlled Senate could agree on — or at least that’s what panelists said this week. latest in a discussion hosted by the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC), a Washington-based think tank.
Potential progress could be made on telehealth, mental and behavioral healthand the fentanyl crisis, suggested the panelists.
“Whether it’s mental health, addiction, or patient empowerment, I really think those are the major agenda items that are likely to move forward at the next Congress,” said Amy Cunniffe of Split Oak Strategies, a Capital Hill company that lobbies for multiple medical and pharmaceutical interests as well as PCBs.
A handful of modest mental and behavioral health proposals have garnered bipartisan support in the current Congress, presenting the promise that they could be revived and enacted in a new one.
Democratic Representative from Maryland David Trone and Republican Representative from Washington Cathy McMorris Rodgers co-sponsored the Restoring Hope for Mental Health and Wellbeing Act 2022, that would expand access to treatment for opioid disorders, train grants to strengthen behavioral health staff, and bolster suicide prevention efforts.
The bill passed the House with overwhelming support from both parties, including the three Democrats and one Republican in the Nevada House, earlier this year. Although the Senate has not acted on the legislation during the current Congress, the bill will likely be reintroduced when the new Congress meets.
Expanding access to opioid addiction treatment, increasing funding for suicide prevention and support for youth mental health issues, and maintaining access to telehealth are all political issues that impact Americans, no matter where they live or who they vote for, BPC panel participants said.
Other laws they mentioned include the Student Mental Health Services Act which aims to expand access to mental and behavioral health care in schools. This legislation also passed the House with bipartisan co-sponsors, including Nevada Democratic Rep. Dina Titus, and has a good chance of being reintroduced next year.
The House, with near unanimous support, also passed fentanyl Synthetic Opioid Danger Awareness Act education on synthetic opioids and treatment options. The fentanyl crisis continues to overwhelm rural and urban America, with 75% of all drug overdose deaths in 2020 involving opioids, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – and in southern Nevada, the bulk of those deaths are now people between 18 and 25 years old.
Telehealth services, which have traditionally been especially helpful in serving rural communities, have expanded dramatically during the pandemic, benefiting urban communities and nearly a third of Americans who live in a desert of mental health professionals. , according to a report from Bipartisan Policy Center.
But much of this expansion was related to the COVID-19 public health emergency, which was set to expire on January 11, 2023, and did not require these telehealth providers to comply with Health Insurance Portability (HIPAA) rules. and Accountability Act) for the use of technology. Providers were also not required to establish a relationship with a patient before providing telehealth services.
Jhe Advancing Telehealth Beyond COVID–19 Act of 2021which allows the maintenance of Medicare telehealth services and Suicide Prevention Actwhich aims to create grants for suicide prevention, all passed the House with bipartisan support but failed to make it through the Senate.
Jim Capretta, a senior researcher who focuses on right-wing health care public policy think tank American Institute of Enterpriseargued that if properly worded, additional policies regarding health care policies could win bipartisan support in the next Congress.
“Even within a hugely partisan House, there’s a certain pressure from their members to say ‘hey, we can’t do nothing forever. I’d like to go home and say I’ve done a few things and am doing things that we can also be proud of,” Capretta said, adding that House Democrats will be similarly motivated.
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