Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) addressed the Biden administration in a letter on Monday, requesting updated federal guidance on Medicaid funding for school-based mental health services. Under the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, CMS is tasked with updating its guidance on Medicaid funding to children and family mental health services.
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In the letter shared with Politico, Bennet called on the administration for direction on school-based programs.
“Updating federal guidance regarding Medicaid funding for services in school-based settings is long overdue and urgently needed to help address the youth mental and behavioral health crisis,” Bennet wrote.
Bennet’s letter referenced the state of emergency issued in his home state over the number of children and youth dealing with mental health issues.
Record numbers of kids and youth in mental health crises were reported across the pediatric health system in Colorado last year. Access to care has also been an issue with just 22% of youth in Colorado who have a mental health condition with severe impairment receiving the care they need.
Bennet’s letter comes a year after he and Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) published a white paper which outlined reforms for mental health care in America.
The bi-partisan plan calls for the passage of a rapid response to the mental health crisis and reevaluating the future of federal programs by reimagining how mental health care is funded and delivered.
The White House announced in July $300 million in investments to expand school-based mental health services, and called on state governors to ensure children enrolled in Medicaid had access to comprehensive health care services.
Lawmakers have been increasingly working across the aisle to address the crisis.
In June, Congress passed the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act in response to the deadly school shooting in Uvalde, Texas. Another bill, the Mental Health Reform Reauthorization Act of 2022, which would renew and modify federal grants through 2027, was introduced in May and is currently working its way through committee.