Senators Carper and Sullivan Introduce Legislation to Strengthen the Holistic Approach to Children’s Health Care

Bipartisan, bicameral legislation would integrate mental and physical health care services for children

Today, U.S. Senators Tom Carper (D-Del.), senior member of the Senate Finance Committee, and Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), along with Representatives Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Del.) and Michael Burgess (R-Texas) introduced the Kickstarting Innovative Demonstrations Support (KIDS) Health Act of 2023. This legislation would establish a holistic approach to children’s health care by integrating mental and physical health services for children and youth eligible for Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). With this “whole child health care” model, health care providers will be better able to meet children where they are, and coordinate with other providers to address the integrated needs of children.

“All children, regardless of their zip code, should have the opportunity to create a bright future. That’s why, since I was Governor, I have led initiatives to make sure children have access to mental and physical health care across the First State,” said Senator Carper. “I’m proud that this bipartisan legislation will make it easier for children in need to get the coordinated and comprehensive mental and physical care they deserve.”

“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 access to mental health treatment for our kids. We want to empower communities to innovate, and build more efficient and effective ‘whole child’ models of care that will reach kids where they are and more effectively offer services that they need.”

“Ensuring that we have the adequate resources and services to care for our young people is one of our most fundamental and important obligations,” said Congresswoman Blunt Rochester. “That’s why, today, I’m proud to introduce the KIDS Health Act of 2023 with Senators Carper and Sullivan, and Representative Burgess. Our bill is bipartisan and bicameral, a testament to the coordinated effort within Congress to ensure that children enrolled in Medicaid are given appropriate and holistic care, no matter who they are or where they live. I will continue working with my colleagues to send this vital legislation to President Biden’s desk.”

“The KIDS Health Act’s commitment to comprehensive care aligns seamlessly with the principles of value-based care, emphasizing patient-centered health care that optimizes outcomes, controls costs, and places a strong emphasis on prevention and early intervention,” said Congressman Burgess. “Throughout my nearly 30 years of experience as an OB/GYN in North Texas, I have witnessed firsthand the critical importance of comprehensive care for children and their families. Recognizing the interconnectedness of children’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being, I wholeheartedly endorse this legislation which represents a transformative stride towards delivering the integrated and holistic care our nation’s children deserve.”

“Nemours Children’s Health commends the reintroduction of the bipartisan and bicameral KIDS Health Act,” said R. Lawrence Moss, MD, FACS, FAAP, President & CEO, Nemours Children’s Health. “This bill focuses on strategies to support healthy development and strong family relationships. With this important legislation, we have an opportunity to go well beyond medicine and invest in whole child health models that focus on keeping children healthy.”

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. 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.

Click here to view the full text of legislation.