House Passes Mental Health Bill Opposed by Plan Sponsor Group

Demand for mental health care has ballooned since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and lawmakers from both parties have introduced legislation designed to improve access to such care. But while the idea of increasing access to mental health care is appealing to virtually all members of Congress, there is a tangle of policies that could achieve it, and legislators haven’t been able to agree on which threads should be spun into a high-profile reform bill. One such proposal that is backed by the White House and just passed the House of Representatives — H.R. 7780, the Mental Health Matters Act (MHMA) — was attacked by employer plan sponsors this week.

Congress seems poised to act on mental health issues this year, Joel White, president of Horizon Government Affairs, tells AIS Health, a division of MMIT. White is a veteran lobbyist and a former Republican staffer in the House of Representatives. The House has passed several mental health measures — including, on Sept. 28, H.R. 7780 — but the Senate’s work is moving at a slower pace.

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Peter Johnson

Peter Johnson

Peter has worked as a journalist since 2011 and has covered health care since 2020. At AIS Health, Peter covers trends in finance, business and policy that affect the health insurance and pharma sectors. For Health Plan Weekly, he covers all aspects of the U.S. health insurance sector, including employer-sponsored insurance, Medicaid managed care, Medicare Advantage and the Affordable Care Act individual marketplaces. In Radar on Drug Benefits, Peter covers the operations of (and conflicts between) pharmacy benefit managers and pharmaceutical manufacturers, with a particular focus on pricing dynamics and market access. Before joining AIS Health, Peter covered transportation, public safety and local government for various outlets in Seattle, his hometown and current place of residence. He graduated with a B.A. from Colby College.

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