U.S. Rep. David Trone (D-MD) introduced two bipartisan bills addressing addiction and mental health on Thursday, the first day of the Biden presidency.
The bills focus on meeting the needs of families facing increases in mental health challenges and drug addiction during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We have vaccines for COVID, but we will never have a vaccine to cure the mental health and addiction epidemics that have been exacerbated by this pandemic,” Trone said. “As President Joe Biden said yesterday, this is a time of enormous crisis and challenge in America, and we must unite together in order to solve these problems.”
The Family Support Services for Addiction Act would create a grant program to assist non-profit organizations providing family support services for addiction treatment. The grant program would ensure that families could access treatment options that are right for their family member, Trone’s office said. Trone and co-sponsor Rep. Dan Meuser (R-PA) previously introduced the bill in the 116th Congress, where it passed the House floor unanimously.
“The Family Support Services for Addiction Act, which passed unanimously in the House last Congress, will help families navigate the difficult and intimidating process of assisting a loved one with substance use disorder,” Meuser said. “This bipartisan legislation provides a community-based approach to addiction treatment, helping families navigate their insurance coverage and explore treatment options to assist their loved one.”
The Preventing Mental Health and Substance Use Crises During Emergencies Act would create a joint task force to prevent mental health crises triggered by public health emergencies and direct the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to assess the federal government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and create a national strategy to manage future mental health crises. The bill was co-sponsored by Rep. Steve Womack (R-AR)
“The coronavirus outbreak is a multifaceted crisis. The devastating medical and economic consequences—compounded by stress and isolation—have profoundly impacted the mental health and well-being of Americans,” said Congressman Womack. “We must bring this silent epidemic out of the shadows and help those struggling. This legislation implements a coordinated effort to ensure we are better prepared to assist individuals and provide life-saving resources now and in the future.”