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HAP Urges Lawmakers to Support Pa.’s Behavioral Health

Statewide behavioral health leaders identify next steps to address a growing crisis, bolster access to care

May 18, 2022

Access to behavioral health care is a growing crisis in Pennsylvania. 

This afternoon, HAP hosted a briefing with lawmakers and legislative staff focused on improving access to care and the challenges facing the state’s behavioral health providers.

The briefing highlighted the role hospitals play in responding to the behavioral health crisis; how we can improve access to post-acute services; and the next steps to ensure enough resources and providers are available to care for patients. The call to action comes at a critical time as state lawmakers craft the 2022–2023 state budget.

“You have an opportunity in this budget to make a meaningful difference in the lives of millions of Pennsylvanians who struggle with mental health challenges,” HAP President and CEO Andy Carter said. “We know that when people can access care quickly—and in the setting that is most appropriate for their particular needs—it makes a world of difference.”

Pennsylvania’s behavioral health care leaders described how they are struggling to help a growing surge of patients access care for depression, anxiety, substance use disorder, autism, and a host of other behavioral health conditions.

The panelists discussed the complexities of caring for patients with behavioral health conditions, their workforce challenges, and the need for additional resources to support this care.

The panelists included Rory L. Marraccini, MD, assistant medical director, department of psychiatry, vice chair for ambulatory services, Lehigh Valley Health Network; Kathryn McCans, MD, division chief, pediatric emergency medicine, Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center; and Dale Brickley, PhD, MBA, senior director of operations, WellSpan Health Philhaven.

The meeting highlighted the critical upcoming priorities to support behavioral health, including:

  • Bolstering community and home-based behavioral health services 
  • Ensuring hospitals have resources to care for patients with complex needs
  • Facilitating placement in post-acute care settings and establishing complex care transition teams to help when inpatient, psychiatric residential treatment, or other settings are unable to discharge patients

HAP and Pennsylvania’s hospitals continue to advocate for policies, legislation, and meaningful support that will help Pennsylvanians access the care they need when and where they need it.

More information about HAP’s behavioral health priorities is available online. For more information, contact Heather Tyler, HAP’s vice president for state legislative advocacy or Jennifer Jordan, HAP’s vice president, regulatory advocacy.