Sullivan, Carper Introduce Bipartisan, Bicameral Bill to Implement Holistic Approach to Children’s

09.29.22

WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) and Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.), senior member of the Senate Finance Committee, along with Representatives Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Del.) and Michael Burgess (R-Texas), today introduced the Kickstarting Innovative Demonstrations Support (KIDS) Health Act of 2022 to establish a “whole child health care” model for children and youth eligible for Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). The legislation would authorize federal dollars for state Medicaid programs to improve coordination between mental health and community health care providers to better support children’s needs through a holistic approach. 

“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 young Americans’ access to mental health treatment. We want to empower communities to innovate, adapt to the unique needs and circumstances of our youth, and build more efficient and effective ‘whole child’ models of care that will hopefully save lives.”

“As Delaware’s Governor, one of my first priorities was establishing the Family Services Cabinet Council to provide better mental and physical health care coordination for children and families in the First State. While we made great strides in meeting kids where they are, including by putting a wellness center in every public high school, today barriers such as cost or lack of access are still preventing children across the country from receiving the health care they need,” said Senator Carper. “I’m proud to build upon my work as Governor to introduce this bipartisan, bicameral bill that will make it easier for a child enrolled in Medicaid to get the proper care they need, regardless of race, zip code, or socioeconomic status. I want to thank Senator Sullivan and Representatives Blunt Rochester and Burgess for their support in crafting this important legislation.” 

“Ensuring that we have the adequate resources and services to care for our young people is one of our most fundamental and important obligations. That’s why I’m so proud to introduce the KIDS Health Act of 2022, today, with my colleagues, Senators Carper and Sullivan, and Representative Burgess,” said Congresswoman Blunt Rochester. “Our bill will ensure that children enrolled in Medicaid will be given appropriate and holistic care no matter who they are or where they live. I’m particularly proud that our effort is bipartisan and bicameral and will continue working with my colleagues to send this crucial health care legislation to President Biden’s desk.”

“I practiced as an OB/GYN in North Texas for nearly three decades and can attest to the benefits of starting preventative care early in a child’s life. I am proud to support the KIDS Health Act to provide integrated, preventative, value-based care for kids who need it most. If we jumpstart a child’s health journey early, they will live longer, better, and healthier lives. It’s more important than ever to come together and help kids across the country get the care they need,” said Congressman Burgess, M.D.

“Nemours Children’s Health applauds the bipartisan sponsors of this important legislation, and their leadership to help the nation’s children live healthy, fulfilled lives,”said R. Lawrence Moss, MD, FACS, FAAP, President & CEO, Nemours Children’s Health. “Working with our nation’s leaders is critical as Nemours strives to go well beyond medicine, getting one step closer to realizing our vision, to create the healthiest generations of children.” 

The legislation has been endorsed by the Alaska Children’s Trust, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention – Alaska Chapter, and the Alaska Primary Care Association.

Background

In December 2021, the U.S. surgeon general issued a public health advisory calling for a comprehensive and coordinated response to address the factors impacting youth mental health. In order to achieve a comprehensive response, Congress must empower providers to offer services in unique and innovative ways and break down the silos that make mental health integration and delivery so difficult, such as lack of access or socioeconomic status. For too long, providers have faced arbitrary limits on how and where they can meet the needs of the youth they serve. Furthermore, bureaucratic red tape, reporting requirements, and paperwork have made it difficult for providers to meet the new, emerging mental health needs of young people in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Earlier this year, the Senate Finance Committee announced focus groups for addressing shortfalls in five areas of mental health care: youth, work force, care integration, mental health parity, and telehealth. Senator Carper was appointed as co-chair of the working group tasked with focusing on youth mental health, and the working group released a discussion draft of policy proposals in July. The KIDS Health Act of 2022 builds on the policy proposals from the discussion draft developed from the youth mental health working group. 

Specifically, the KIDS Health Act of 2022 would:

  • Authorize a $125 million demonstration program to help states improve coordination between mental health and community health care providers, which will better support children’s needs through a holistic approach;
  • Allow states to establish or enhance payment models that reward doctors for providing higher-quality care that helps children stay healthier and invest in workforce recruitment and training;
  • Allow participating states to design and implement a delivery model in which health care providers partner with community organizations and government agencies to coordinate services across multiple sectors;
  • Require GAO to issue a report, evaluating the individual, financial, and systems-level impacts associated with whole child health models implemented under the demonstration project; and
  • Require the secretary of health and human services to issue guidance on combining federal and non-federal funds to address social determinants of health in low-income populations.

Click here to view the full text of legislation. 

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