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Biden to Lay Out Plan for Expanding Access to Mental Health Care

March 1, 2022, 5:03 PM

President Joe Biden will lay out a plan to make it easier for Americans to get mental health care and urge Congress to boost spending to train more behavioral health doctors, the White House announced.

Biden, as part of his first State of the Union address Tuesday night, will announce his fiscal 2023 budget will call for $700 million in programs that provide training, scholarships, and loan repayment to mental health and substance use disorder providers who practice in rural and other underserved communities. He’ll also ask for “major new multi-year funding” to bolster provider capacity, the White House said.

The president will say mental health problems appear to be worsening for many Americans. The White House’s announcement cited a report that 40% of U.S. adults reported symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder in 2021, up from 10% in 2019.

The mental health crisis has led a growing number of young people reporting severe depression, with multiracial youth at greatest risk, the Kaiser Family Foundation report said. Biden is pitching protections from social media as a way to improve children’s mental health, and his fiscal 2023 budget will propose $1 billion to help schools hire additional counselors and psychologists.

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The Biden budget will propose almost $700 million to staff up local crisis centers, building on the launch of a new 988 suicide prevention hotline.

Additionally, Biden’s 2023 budget proposal will call for all health insurance plans to cover robust behavioral health services with an adequate network of providers, including three behavioral health visits each year without cost-sharing.

That budget proposal will also double funding for federal programs that try to equip primary care doctors with the skills and tools needed identify and treat behavioral health issues. This will include testing payment models in Medicaid that support this integrated care and paying doctors through the program for consulting with mental health specialists.

To contact the reporter on this story: Alex Ruoff in Washington at aruoff@bgov.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Robin Meszoly at rmeszoly@bgov.com; Sarah Babbage at sbabbage@bgov.com