Loebsack Introduces Legislation to Expand Access to Mental Health Services for Children

Written by Theresa Rose on June 16, 2016

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Dave Loebsack released the following statement after he recently introduced legislation that would help remove some of the barriers that prevent children from receiving necessary mental health care. Loebsack’s legislation, the Children’s Access to Mental Health Services (CAMHS) Act, would provide federal matching funds to state and regional networks of mental health professionals, commonly known as Child Behavioral Health Access Programs. Currently, these networks are funded through a variety of private and public financing mechanisms.


“At a time when there are simply not enough mental and behavioral health professionals across the country to provide services for those who need them, finding providers with pediatric experience can be especially difficult,” said Rep. Dave Loebsack. “For developing children and adolescents, coordinating critical mental health resources and primary care services simply makes sense. However, more work needs to be done to bolster this critical infrastructure across the country, which is why I am proud to introduce this important legislation.”


“The Children’s Access to Mental Health Services (CAMHS) Act will help connect children more effectively with mental health services by integrating mental health into pediatric primary care settings. The bill’s enhanced federal match for state Medicaid programs will help states create or expand innovative child behavioral health integration programs in pediatric primary care settings and help ensure more children with emerging or diagnosed mental health disorders receive early and continuous treatment,” said American Academy of Pediatrics President Benard P. Dreyer, MD, FAAP. “The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) thanks Rep. Loebsack for his leadership on children’s mental health and looks forward to working with Congress to advance this important legislation.”


Background on the Children’s Access to Mental Health Services (CAMHS) Act


Mental health services are already underutilized for children, and when issues go unidentified and unaddressed, they often manifest later in life. Untreated, these issues can emerge in impaired school performance, strained peer-to-peer relationships, criminal justice problems, physical maladies, unemployment later in life and more. Early intervention is the key, but there are serious barriers to access for our children.


Currently, these integration programs are funded through a patchwork of short-term public and private grants. While Child Behavioral Health Access Programs are making real progress in expanding access to behavioral health services for children and adolescents everywhere, we must do more to incentivize providers to get involved. The CAMHS Act’s enhanced Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) will help grow these programs to make sure our children get the mental health care they need.