The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed legislation that would help hospitals treat patients who need mental healthcare.
The Improving Mental Health Access from the Emergency Department Act of 2019 would create a grant program to help hospital emergency departments provide follow-up care for patients who visited the department for an acute mental health episode.
People who visit emergency rooms for these episodes often do not receive long-term care because emergency departments often lack the resources to identify and secure appropriate care.
The bill authorizes $75 million over the next five years for the grant program.
Qualifying uses of the funds include increasing coordination with regional service providers; providing transportation services from the hospital to the location of the follow-up care; expanding the number of inpatient psychiatric beds; increasing telepsychiatry support; and establishing regional bed availability tracking and management programs.
“My bill will help people who end up in the ER suffering from an acute mental health episode get the care they need to feel better and live happy, healthy lives,” U.S. Rep Raul Ruiz (D-CA), who sponsored the bill, said. “Now more than ever, we must expand access to mental health treatment and care. I urge the Senate to pass this bill to help patients immediately.”