Congress Advances Significant Mental Health Bills

On Wednesday, May 18th, the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee voted to advance two critical pieces of legislation providing mental health support to counties.torso of a woman with long hair wearing a shirt that says "mental health matters"

The bills include H.R. 7666 – Restoring Hope for Mental Health and Well-Being Act of 2022 and H.R. 7233 – Keeping Incarceration Discharges Streamlined for Children and Accommodating Resources in Education Act (KIDS CARES Act). According to the National Association of Counties (NACo), H.R. 7666 includes the following:

  • Reauthorization of SAMHSA’s Community Mental Health Services (CMHS) and the Substance Use Prevention, Treatment and Recovery Services Block grant programs, including a new requirement that 5 percent of funds in the CMHS block grant be allocated toward crisis care services
  • Reauthorization of HRSA’s Screening and Treatment for Maternal Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder grant program and the establishment of a maternal mental health hotline
  • Elimination of the requirement that an individual be addicted to opioids for at least one year prior to being admitted for treatment by an opioid treatment program
  • $10 million in grants to states for the implementation of mental health and substance use disorder service parity.
  • The elimination of federal approval requirements for the administration of certain medication assisted treatment.
  • Grants to local entities to develop, expand, and enhance access to peer-delivered mental health services.

H.R. 7233 expands Medicaid to cover mental health screenings for youth in the criminal justice system. Moreover, the bill includes a bipartisan amendment to remove the Medicaid inmate exclusion policy’s (MIEP) application to juveniles the pending disposition of their charges.

In recent years, NACo has advocated eliminating the MIEP to contain inmate health care costs. The gradual rollback of MIEP could have long-term implications for the ongoing implementation of a recently passed Maryland law significantly expanding substance use disorder (SUD) treatment options for inmates.

Read the full NACo blog post.