HAP's Latest News

House OKs Behavioral Health Investments

June 07, 2023

The state House today approved legislation allocating $100 million in one-time, federal funds to support adult behavioral health, sending the measure to the Senate for consideration.

Lawmakers passed House Bill 849, sponsored by Representative Michael Schlossberg (D-Lehigh), with a 170-30 vote.

The measure directs how the commonwealth will spend $100 million that lawmakers set aside in the 2022–2023 budget from Pennsylvania’s share of federal COVID-19 relief dollars. As part of that appropriation, the state empaneled a blue-ribbon commission that met last fall to recommend how the money could best support Pennsylvanians’ mental health.

HAP has urged the General Assembly to move quickly to allocate the funding, noting that a shortage of services and bottlenecks throughout the behavioral health care continuum are making it difficult for Pennsylvanians to access mental health care when and where they need it.

“The decreasing availability of behavioral health services is overwhelming the commonwealth’s hospitals as increasing numbers of Pennsylvanians present with mental health conditions,” HAP wrote in a May letter. “This not only impedes progress for patients with mental health concerns, it also negatively affects others who need care.”

Lawmakers amended the bill to make some changes to how the funds would be allocated. Among other investments, the measure directs:

  • $34 million to strengthen the behavioral health workforce
  • $18 million for projects and capital investments that support suicide prevention and the crisis continuum of care
  • $10 million to support collaborative care models that integrate behavioral health care into primary care settings

For more information, contact Heather Tyler, vice president, state legislative advocacy.