Sullivan, Carper Introduce Bipartisan, Bicameral Bill to Implement Holistic Approach to Children’s Health Care

09.29.22

WASHINGTON—U.S. U.S.Together with Representatives Lisa Blunt Rochester and Tom Carper (D-Del.), he is a senior member of Senate Finance Committee. Today, the legislation was introduced by Michael Burgess (R.Texas) Health Act of 2022: Kickstarting Innovative Demonstrations (KIDS) to establish a “whole child health care” model for children and youth eligible for Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). The legislation would authorize federal dollars for state Medicaid programs to improve coordination between mental health and community health care providers to better support children’s needs through a holistic approach. 

“We are in the midst of a heartbreaking spike in mental health challenges among young people,” said Senator Sullivan. “Worse still, our country’s bureaucratic, siloed approach to health care and social services is not serving our kids well at a time when they need support the most. Senator Carper and I have crafted legislation that will remove unnecessary barriers and red tape that are limiting young Americans’ access to mental health treatment. We want to empower communities to innovate, adapt to the unique needs and circumstances of our youth, and build more efficient and effective ‘whole child’ models of care that will hopefully save lives.”

“As Delaware’s Governor, one of my first priorities was establishing the Family Services Cabinet Council to provide better mental and physical health care coordination for children and families in the First State. While we made great strides in meeting kids where they are, including by putting a wellness center in every public high school, today barriers such as cost or lack of access are still preventing children across the country from receiving the health care they need,” said Senator Carper. “I’m proud to build upon my work as Governor to introduce this bipartisan, bicameral bill that will make it easier for a child enrolled in Medicaid to get the proper care they need, regardless of race, zip code, or socioeconomic status. I want to thank Senator Sullivan and Representatives Blunt Rochester and Burgess for their support in crafting this important legislation.” 

“Ensuring that we have the adequate resources and services to care for our young people is one of our most fundamental and important obligations. That’s why I’m so proud to introduce the KIDS Health Act of 2022, today, with my colleagues, Senators Carper and Sullivan, and Representative Burgess,” said Congresswoman Blunt Rochester. “Our bill will ensure that children enrolled in Medicaid will be given appropriate and holistic care no matter who they are or where they live. I’m particularly proud that our effort is bipartisan and bicameral and will continue working with my colleagues to send this crucial health care legislation to President Biden’s desk.”

“I practiced as an OB/GYN in North Texas for nearly three decades and can attest to the benefits of starting preventative care early in a child’s life. I am proud to support the KIDS Health Act to provide integrated, preventative, value-based care for kids who need it most. If we jumpstart a child’s health journey early, they will live longer, better, and healthier lives. It’s more important than ever to come together and help kids across the country get the care they need,” Burgess, Congressman, M.D.

“Nemours Children’s Health applauds the bipartisan sponsors of this important legislation, and their leadership to help the nation’s children live healthy, fulfilled lives,”R. Lawrence Moss, MD, FACS, FAAP, President & CEO, Nemours Children’s Health. “Working with our nation’s leaders is critical as Nemours strives to go well beyond medicine, getting one step closer to realizing our vision, to create the healthiest generations of children.” 

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The legislation has been endorsed by the Alaska Children’s Trust, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention – Alaska Chapter, and the Alaska Primary Care Association.

Background

December 2021 was the U.S. surgeon-general’s first issue of a Public Health Advisory calling for a comprehensive and coordinated response to address the factors impacting youth mental health. Congress must give providers the ability to offer services in innovative and unique ways. This will allow them to break down silos that hinder mental health integration and delivery, such as access and socioeconomic status. Providers have had to face arbitrary limitations on where and how they can serve the youth they serve for far too long. A number of bureaucratic red tapes, reporting requirements and paperwork have made addressing the mental health needs of young people following the COVID-19 pandemic difficult.

The Senate Finance Committee announced earlier this year that it would be hosting focus groups to address shortfalls in five areas related to mental health care. These were youth, work force and care integration, as well as telehealth. Senator Carper was named co-chair of the working party that focused on youth mental healthcare. The working group released a draft in July. The KIDS Health Law of 2022 This policy document builds on the policy suggestions from the discussion draft that was developed by the youth mental health working groups. 

Particularly, the KIDS Health Law of 2022 would:

  • Authorize a $125 million demonstration program to help states improve coordination between mental health and community health care providers, which will better support children’s needs through a holistic approach;
  • States can establish or improve payment models that reward doctors who provide better-quality care to children. This will allow them to invest in workforce recruitment, training, and retention.
  • Participating states can design and implement a delivery system in which health care providers work with community organizations and government agencies to coordinate their services across multiple sectors.
  • Demand that GAO issues a report evaluating individual, financial, system-level and system-level effects of whole child model implementations under the demonstration program;
  • Ask the secretary of human services to issue guidance to help low-income people with social determinants of their health.

Click here to view the full text of legislation. 

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