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Pallone and Eshoo on House Passage of 13 Health Care Bills

Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) and Health Subcommittee Chairwoman Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA) released the following joint statement after the House of Representatives passed 13 health care bills this week:

“The COVID-19 pandemic has intensified the pre-existing mental health care crisis in the United States. Now more than ever it is important that we invest in our nation’s mental health care infrastructure to ensure that Americans can readily access quality, culturally competent care in their communities. It’s also vitally important that we equip our first responders and health care providers with the tools and resources they need to properly care for their patients. We’re proud of the hard work on both sides of the aisle to pass these bills to improve mental health care, substance use disorder treatment, and suicide prevention and look forward to seeing them signed into law.”

The House of Representatives passed the following 13 bills:

H.R. 433, the “Family Support Services for Addiction Act of 2021,” was introduced by Reps. David Trone (D-MD) and Daniel Meuser (R-PA). The bill would authorize the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to award grants to support family community organizations that develop, expand, and enhance evidence-informed family support services for families and family members living with substance use disorders or addiction. The grants may be used to build connections between family support networks, with behavioral health and primary care providers, and foster care services, among others. The grant may also be used to reduce stigma around addiction and addiction treatment, family support outreach activities, and connect families to peer support programs. The bill passed by an en bloc vote of 349-74.

H.R. 1475, the “Pursuing Equity in Mental Health Act,” was introduced by Reps. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) and John Katko (R-NY). The bill would authorize federal funding to address mental health disparities among underserved populations, including communities of color. The bill includes provisions that would: create a grant program targeted at high-poverty communities for culturally and linguistically appropriate mental health services; support research into disparities in mental health; reauthorize the Minority Fellowship Program to support more students of color entering the mental health workforce; and study the impact of smartphones and social media on adolescents. The bill passed by an en bloc vote of 349-74.

H.R. 586, the “Suicide Training and Awareness Nationally Delivered for Universal Prevention Act of 2021” or the “STANDUP Act of 2021,” was introduced by Reps. Scott Peters (D-CA) and Gus Bilirakis (R-FL). The bill would require State and Tribal educational agencies that receive Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Project Aware grants to establish and implement a school-based student suicide awareness and prevention training policy and collect information on training activities. The training policy would be focused on grades six through 12 and would train students on self-harm and suicidal ideation. The bill would also ensure the school-based policies are culturally and linguistically appropriate. The bill passed by an en bloc vote of 349-74.

H.R. 721, the “Mental Health Services for Students Act of 2021,” was introduced by Reps. Grace Napolitano (D-CA) and Katko. The bill would authorize grants to fund school-based mental health services. The program would support screening for social, emotional, mental, and behavioral issues, including suicide or substance use disorders; treatment and referral for these issues; development of evidence-based programs for students experiencing these issues; and other strategies for schools to support students and the communities that surround them. The goal of the program is to create partnerships between schools and community-based mental health professionals across the country. The bill passed by an en bloc vote of 349-74. 

H.R. 1260, the “Bipartisan Solution to Cyclical Violence Act of 2021,” was introduced by Reps. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD) and Adam Kinzinger (R-IL). The bill would create a grant program at HHS to support trauma centers with violence intervention and violence prevention programs. Program support would be provided to conduct research to reduce the incidence of re-injury and re-incarceration caused by intentional violent trauma. The bill passed by an en bloc vote of 349-74.

H.R. 1205, the “Improving Mental Health Access from the Emergency Department Act of 2021,” was introduced by Rep. Raul Ruiz (D-CA). The bill would authorize SAMHSA to award grants to qualifying emergency departments for the purpose of supporting mental health services. Grant recipients must use funds to support the provision of follow-up services for individuals who present for care of acute mental health episodes, such as placement in appropriate facilities. The bill passed by an en bloc vote of 349-74.

H.R. 1324, the “Effective Suicide Screening and Assessment in the Emergency Department Act of 2021,” was introduced by Reps. Bilirakis and Darren Soto (D-FL). The bill would create a grant program to improve the identification, assessment, and treatment of patients in emergency departments who are at risk for suicide by: developing policies and procedures for identifying and assessing individuals who are at risk of suicide and enhancing the coordination of care for such individuals after discharge. The bill passed by an en bloc vote of 349-74.

H.R. 1480, the “Helping Emergency Responders Overcome Act” or the “HERO Act,” was introduced by Reps. Ami Bera (D-CA) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA). The bill would create a data system at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to capture public safety officer suicide incidences and study successful interventions, authorize grants for peer support behavioral health and wellness programs within fire departments and emergency medical service agencies, and require the development of best practices for addressing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in public safety officers and educational materials. The bill passed by an en bloc vote of 349-74.

H.R. 2862, the “Campaign to Prevent Suicide Act,” was introduced by Reps. Don Beyer (D-VA) and Kinzinger. The bill would direct HHS, in coordination with CDC and SAMHSA, to carry out a national suicide prevention media campaign to advertise the new 9-8-8 number, when it becomes effective, raise awareness for suicide prevention resources, and cultivate a more effective discourse on how to prevent suicide. The bill would also provide guidance to TV and social media companies on how to talk about suicide by creating a best practices toolkit. The bill passed by an en bloc vote of 349-74.

H.R. 2981, the “Suicide Prevention Lifeline Improvement Act of 2021,” was introduced by Reps. Katko, Beyer, and Napolitano. The bill would increase the authorization funding level of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline program to $50 million each year, from fiscal year (FY) 2022 through FY 2024. The bill also directs HHS to establish a plan for maintaining the program, including sharing certain data with CDC. In addition, the bill includes a pilot program to research, analyze, and employ various innovative technologies and platforms for suicide prevention and reports on the use and progress of the pilot. The bill passed by an en bloc vote of 349-74.

H.R.2955, the “Suicide Prevention Act,” was introduced by Reps. Chris Stewart (R-UT) and Doris Matsui (D-CA). The bill establishes two grant programs to prevent self-harm and suicide. The CDC must award grants to State, local, and Tribal health departments to expand surveillance of self-harm, and SAMHSA must award grants to hospital emergency departments for programs to prevent self-harm and suicide attempts among patients after discharge. The bill passed by an en bloc vote of 349-74.

H.R. 768, the “Block, Report, And Suspend Suspicious Shipments Act of 2021,” was introduced by Reps. David McKinley (R-WV) and Debbie Dingell (D-MI). The bill would create additional requirements for drug manufacturers and distributors who discover a suspicious order for controlled substances. In addition to reporting a suspicious order of controlled substances to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), a manufacturer or distributor must also exercise due diligence, decline to fill the order or series of orders, notify DEA of each suspicious order or series of orders and the indicators that led to the belief that filling such orders would be a violation. The bill passed by an en bloc vote of 349-74.

H.R. 2877, the “Behavioral Intervention Guidelines Act of 2021,” was introduced by Reps. Drew Ferguson (R-GA), Michael Burgess (R-TX), Peters, and Jimmy Panetta (D-CA). The bill would require SAMHSA to develop best practices for schools to establish behavioral intervention teams and properly train them on how to intervene and avoid inappropriate use of mental health assessments and law enforcement. Not later than one year after enactment, best practices shall be made publicly available on an HHS website. The bill passed by a vote of 323-93 with 2 members voting present.

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