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On the Hill: Build Back Better Act, Mental Health

Back from the July Fourth recess and with their annual August break looming, House and Senate lawmakers face a packed agenda that includes work to revive the Build Back Better Act and to improve access to mental health care.

Build Back Better Act

The Build Back Better Act, the human infrastructure package that first gained traction last year, takes the stage again as Senate Democrats work to bring it across the finish line before the end of the fiscal year, Sept. 30. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) submitted to the Senate parliamentarian updated legislative language, including a Medicare prescription drug pricing proposal approved by all 50 Senate Democrats. Schumer and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) continue to negotiate the specifics of a scaled-down, $1 trillion package.

On June 29, America’s Essential Hospitals sent a letter to Democratic leaders outlining the need to include various health care provisions in the revised Build Back Better Act. Recommendations included closing the health care coverage gap and improving health equity; and allocating $10 billion and $7 billion to safety net hospitals for infrastructure needs and for COVID-19 and workforce challenges, respectively.

Mental Health Legislation

Congress continues its work to address mental health care access. Just before the July Fourth recess, the House passed the Restoring Hope for Mental Health and Well-Being Act of 2022 (H.R. 7666), which would reauthorize and expand a number of mental health care programs. Meanwhile, the Senate Committee on Finance has released two of an expected five discussion drafts on a bipartisan mental health package. However, details on workforce, integration, and mental health parity have not been released and bill language has not been finalized. The committee indicated previously that it expected language to be available by the end of this month, but that informal deadline might slip, as this likely will be a focus of Congress’ post-election lame duck session.

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About the Author

Christina Fagnano is the legislative affairs associate at America's Essential Hospitals.

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