NAADAC participated in the May 18th Congressional Mental Health Caucus virtual roundtable with approximately 75 advocates representing national mental health organizations and eight Members of Congress. The event was co-hosted by Caucus Co-Chairs Reps. Grace Napolitano (D-TX) and John Katko (R-NY). Advocates received updates on legislation and policy issues from Reps. David Trone (D-MD), Paul Tonko (R-NY), Dorsi Matsui (D-CA), Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), and Joseph Kennedy (D-MD).
The members of Congress spoke passionately about an array of policy issues around the current pandemic and related bills including the recent Medicare audio-only policy change for telehealth, mental health in the schools, suicide prevention, the need for long-term telehealth solutions, addiction treatment, concerns about the impact of social isolation in COVID-19 as well as touting several of the new mental health and substance use provisions in the HEROES Act that passed the House on May 15th.
NAADAC Executive Director Cynthia Moreno Tuohy spoke eloquently and effectively about concerns around substance use disorders in the home, particularly impacting children and teenagers. She further emphasized the need to work on efforts to retain the SUD workforce particularly first responders as well as addressing health equity and disparities moving forward. Several advocates spoke up to express appreciation to the Congressional Mental Health Caucus for raising awareness about the need for mental health and addiction services.
Rep. Joseph Kennedy ended the call by stating, "I have a high regard for mental health and SUD [treatment]; the COVID pandemic has made a broken system even worse.” Rep. Kennedy is passionate about assisting in changing that scenario.
This week’s roundtable was a follow-up to the live meeting that took place last March. NAADAC remains the primary voice for addiction profession in this setting and looks forward continuing to collaborate on policy issues lead by the Congressional Mental Health Caucus.