News from Representative Tom Emmer

Dear Friend,

It is time to have a conversation about mental health in our neighborhoods and communities. In Minnesota and across the country, health professionals have been struggling to provide quality mental health care to everyone that needs it. My goal since coming to Congress has been to seek legislative and community solutions that would serve as important steps in addressing the many barriers to ensuring access to mental health care.

Expanding Access to Mental Health Act 

This week, I am introducing legislation to increase access to mental health care. A loophole called the IMD exclusion impacts Medicaid beneficiaries from seeking short-term inpatient care in mental health facilities with more than sixteen beds. My bill will eliminate this arbitrary cap on the amount of care a patient can receive from providers who receive a fixed reimbursement, and allows a patient’s routine of care to be determined by their needs and the guidance of their doctor -  not a bureaucrat. Closing this loophole will mean that patients are able to receive the effective treatment they deserve, improving their outcomes and helping them heal.

Non-partisan legislation like this will directly impact Minnesota, and improve mental health care treatment. However, it is important that we continue this conversation with each other. There should be absolutely no stigma surrounding conversations about mental health, nor seeking treatment options.

In addition to the Expanding Access to Mental Health Act, I have supported several policy solutions that ensure mental health is a priority. Considering the physical impacts that a lack of proper mental health treatment can have, solutions to provide mental health treatment can actually reduce health care costs. This Congress, I am an original co-sponsor of H.R. 1767, the Excellence in Mental Health and Addiction Expansion Act. This bill extends the Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHCs), which offer mental health services to those in need. Initial analysis on this program demonstrated that CCBHCs actually reduce health care costs by offering preventative treatment for mental health.

Funding Community Solutions

Recently, I joined People Incorporated’s CEO Jill Wiedemann-West to celebrate their 50th anniversary and discuss current barriers to accessing mental health treatment for individuals across Minnesota. People Incorporated utilizes the CCBHC model and is an incredible example of community care that is both preventative and effective.

Read my Q&A with People Incorporated CEO Jill Wiedemann-West by clicking here

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Providing Access and Support for Rural Communities

Last Congress, I introduced the Stemming the Tide of Rural Economic Stress and Suicide Act (STRESS) Act. Rates of suicide among farmers and agricultural workers were rising due to the nature of the work combined with the lack of mental health treatment options available. This increased risk for suicide and depression. Due to social isolation, downturns in the market, and lack of treatment options, farmers and rural communities were struggling to get the help they need. My bill, which passed last Congress reauthorized the Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network and recently, an initial $1.92 million was granted, and $480,000 was awarded to a partnership between the Iowa and Minnesota Extensions. Read more about the STRESS Act here

I am committed to finding solutions to lack of access to mental health care for individuals across Minnesota.

To keep up with what we're doing in Washington, follow me on Twitter and Facebook

Sincerely,

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