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Taking Action on Behavioral Health

HAP letters spotlight legislation to support patients, improve access to behavioral health care

May 22, 2023

This month, HAP and Pennsylvania’s hospital community are urging state leaders to support our behavioral health system and patients across the commonwealth.

In three separate letters, HAP highlighted the ways lawmakers can invest in behavioral health, support timely transitions in care, and help integrate behavioral health throughout our health care system.

“Many aspects of our behavioral health system are in crisis,” HAP wrote in a recent letter. “Pennsylvanians are not receiving the right mental health care, at the right time, or in the right setting.”

In the three letters, HAP urged the state lawmakers to support:

  • House Bill 849This legislation, sponsored by Representative Michael Schlossberg (D-Lehigh), authorizes the state to spend $100 million in one-time federal funds set aside in the 2022–2023 state budget for adult mental health. The measure would, among other investments, direct $34 million toward growing the behavioral health workforce.
  • Senate Bill 445This legislation, sponsored by Senator Frank A. Farry (R-Bucks), supports the integration of behavioral health treatment across the continuum of health care. It creates a grant program to help cover start-up costs for small primary care providers (focused on rural and underserved areas) and offers technical assistance for the promotion and implementation of integrated behavioral health care statewide.
  • Senate Bill 606This legislation, also sponsored by Farry, would generate data about transitions in patient care, allowing the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services to identify the areas that delay patient transitions and offer solutions to address the issue.

“In almost every community statewide, Pennsylvanians’ access to many vital health care services is threatened,” HAP noted last week in support of House Bill 849. “The decreasing availability of behavioral health services is overwhelming the commonwealth’s hospitals as increasing numbers of Pennsylvanians present with mental health conditions.”

Senate bills 445 and 606 are companions to House bills 22 and 24, which HAP also supported.

During Mental Health Awareness Month, HAP joins organizations around the country taking action to support our behavioral health system and to ensure patients have access to the care they need in their communities. Learn more about our behavioral health advocacy

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