Senators Carper and Cassidy Introduce Bill to Expand Access to Youth Mental Health Services

Legislation would help families on Medicaid access mental health services and primary care services on the same day

U.S. Senators Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.) introduced the Improving Coordination and Access to Resources Equitably (CARE) for Youth Act, legislation that would increase access to mental health services for those on Medicaid. This bipartisan bill would align federal law with laws in 27 states across the country that prevent surprise billing for youth on Medicaid who seek mental health services on the same day as primary care services.

“In the wake of a worsening youth mental health crisis, it’s important that we make mental health services accessible to all children,” said Senator Carper. “The Improving CARE for Youth Act will eliminate financial barriers for the more than 50 percent of children in this country on Medicaid, and support better coordinated care across providers.”

“Asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness. Expanding access to mental health services for young people on Medicaid by removing billing restrictions can help everyone do much better,” said Dr. Cassidy. “Let’s work together to make mental health support more accessible for everyone.”

The Improving CARE for Youth Act is supported by the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association as well as the American Psychiatric Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

“Everyone should have access to fully integrated and coordinated health care, but some restrictions in Medicaid and CHIP get in the way, making it harder for patients to receive the care they need. We applaud Senators Carper and Cassidy for introducing legislation to eliminate same-day billing restrictions which currently prohibit a patient from addressing multiple health needs in a single visit or on the same day. This important step will increase access to comprehensive care and likely lead to better health outcomes for millions of Americans,” said David Merritt, Blue Cross Blue Shield Association’s Senior Vice President of Policy and Advocacy.

As a senior member of the Senate Finance Committee and co-chair of the Committee’s Youth Mental Health Working Group, Senator Carper has been a leader in the fight to address the health care needs of children across the country. His work to support children’s mental and physical health led to the passage of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which will provide health care services for students and promote better coordination between federal agencies. Last year, U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona joined Senator Carper in Delaware to highlight how the funding from the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act will help schools provide mental health resources to Delaware students.

As Governor, Senator Carper led the initiative to put a nurse in every public school and add a wellness center to every public high school. He also established the Family Services Cabinet Council to provide better mental and physical health care coordination for children and families in the First State.

The full text of the bill can be found here.