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January 27, 2021

Trone, Womack, Meuser propose bills for mental health, addiction care

(January 26, 2021) – House Democrat David Trone of Maryland and two Republican colleagues introduced bills that would create a task force and a grant program focused on mental health and addiction treatment.

A bill (HR 434) co-sponsored by Rep. Steve Womack, R-Ark., would establish a joint task force meant to prevent mental health crises caused by public health emergencies such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

The task force would direct the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to evaluate federal response to the pandemic’s effects and make a national strategy for handling mental health crises in the future.

About 37 percent of adults reported indicators of anxiety or depression in December, up from 31 percent at the end of April, according to a study by the National Center for Health Statistics and the U.S. Census Bureau. Both of those figures are way up from the 11 percent who reported symptoms in response to similar survey questions in 2019.

It would include representatives of federal agencies including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, non-governmental organizations, patient advocates, and state and local experts in public health specializing in mental health and substance use.

“We will never have a vaccine to cure the mental health and addiction epidemics that have been exacerbated by this pandemic,” Trone said in a statement Jan. 21.

Womack said people’s mental health and well-being have been affected by the pandemic’s “devastating medical and economic consequences — compounded by stress and isolation.”

Another bill (HR 433), which passed the House but was reintroduced this session after it stalled last year, would create a grant program to help non-profits that give addiction treatment support to families. Trone and Rep. Dan Meuser, R-Pa., co-sponsored it.

“This bipartisan legislation provides a community-based approach to addiction treatment, helping families navigate their insurance coverage and explore treatment options to assist their loved one,” Meuser said in a statement.