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HAP Urges Lawmakers to Support Pa. Behavioral Health

November 15, 2022

HAP and Pennsylvania’s health care community urged state lawmakers today to act quickly to allocate $100 million in one-time federal funding to support behavioral health.

This morning, the state Senate Health and Human Services Committee hosted a hearing focused on Pennsylvania’s blue-ribbon commission recommendations to allocate one-time federal funding to support adult behavioral health.

During the hearing, Jeff Bechtel, HAP’s senior vice president, health economics and policy, applauded lawmakers for their commitment to behavioral health and encouraged them to take action to authorize the funding.

“The hospital community draws particular attention to the commission’s focus on the urgent need to incentivize, invest in, retain, and grow the health care workforce,” Bechtel testified. “You are well aware that there is a nationwide crisis with detrimental implications for patients, health care professionals, and facilities. Pennsylvania is no exception.”

The report from the Behavioral Health Commission for Adult Mental Health includes 10 priority areas, including telemedicine, workforce retention, and integrated care models. It recommends appropriating the $100 million across three categories:

  • Stabilize, strengthen, and expand the workforce ($37 million)
  • Improve the criminal justice and public safety systems ($23.5 million)
  • Expand capacity for services and supports ($39 million)

Lawmakers from the state’s Mental Health Caucus—Representative Mike Schlossberg (D-Lehigh), Representative Wendi Thomas (R-Bucks), Senator Maria Collett (D-Montgomery)—expressed a sense of urgency to enact the recommendations. They also stressed the importance of supporting care in rural areas, among children, and to relieve the strain on hospital emergency departments.

The lawmakers and health care panelists testified that the $100 million proposal is a “first step” to supporting behavioral health in Pennsylvania, but additional investment is needed, especially to bolster the state’s behavioral health workforce.

HAP will continue to advocate for policies and initiatives that improve Pennsylvania’s behavioral health. Learn more about our behavioral health priorities.

For more information, contact Jeff Bechtel, HAP’s senior vice president, health economics and policy.