Washington, D.C. —Today, Congressman Tom Emmer (MN06) spoke on the House Floor in support of H.R. 7666, the Restoring Hope for Mental Health and Well-Being Act.
This bill contains key provisions from two Emmer-led initiatives. These include a part of the Due Process Continuity of Care Act allowing juvenile detainees to continue receiving existing Medicaid-funded mental health care while awaiting trial. Additionally, the bill includes a version of the Behavioral Health Coordination and Communication Act, which creates an office within the Department of Health and Human Services to streamline behavioral health crisis intervention.
Video of Congressman Emmer’s remarks is available here.
You can read Emmer’s remarks in full below:
I rise in support of H.R. 7666, the Restoring Hope for Mental Health and Well-Being Act.
After years of lockdowns and social isolation, the mental health of our nation’s citizens – and especially our youth – is at an all-time low. But H.R. 7666 begins to return us to a better path, and so I would like to thank the Chairman and Ranking Member for their hard work.
I am especially pleased that portions of two bills I had the pleasure of working on with my colleague from Maryland were included in this legislation. One such provision would amend the Medicaid Inmate Exclusion Policy to allow incarcerated juveniles who have been detained pending trial to continue to receive Medicaid coverage. Pretrial detainees are, by definition, presumed innocent. As a matter of due process, we should not be denying critical health benefits to anyone who has not been convicted of a crime.
From a practical standpoint, reforms to the Medicaid Inmate Exclusion Policy will help our local law enforcement better manage the shockingly high percentage of inmates who suffer from mental illness.
H.R. 7666 also includes language to create a behavioral health coordinating office, another issue that I have had the pleasure of working on. Many federal programs to address the mental health crises currently lack clear, unified direction and coordination – which is a recipe for redundancy and waste. The reforms in today’s bill will bring all the major agencies into the room – including the Secretary of Education, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, and the Director of National Drug Control Policy – to develop a unified approach to addressing topics ranging from substance abuse care to the delivery of better telehealth.
There is always more work to be done to improve the mental health of our nation, but H.R. 7666 is an important step, and one we need now more than ever. I once again urge my colleagues to support this critical legislation, and I yield back.