Press Releases

NAMI Statement on House Passage of COVID-19 Relief Bill

Mar 01 2021
 

Arlington, VA — Today the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) CEO Daniel H. Gillison released the following statement after the U.S. House of Representatives passed the latest COVID-19 Relief package.

“Over the past year our world has been rocked by the COVID-19 pandemic, isolation, economic uncertainty, racial injustice, political strife, violence and more. It is no surprise that this atmosphere has led to the epidemic within the pandemic: a mental health crisis.

We continue to face an uphill battle with an underfunded, fractured mental health system. That’s why we are grateful Congress is recognizing the need for mental health services and their vital importance to our nation’s recovery.

The mental health provisions included in the relief package passed by the House of Representatives on Saturday are encouraging. The investments — upwards of $4 billion — will bring needed support for mental health services at a time when so many are hurting. More than 4,000 NAMI advocates from across the country contacted their U.S. Representatives to encourage passage.

This federal infusion of aid also provides support for housing, a critical need among people who are affected by serious mental illness, funding to promote mental health among first responders — a priority for us through the NAMI Frontline Wellness initiative — and incentives to expand Medicaid in states that have not yet done so.

The bill also reflects something else exposed this year: in many communities, mental health crises are met by law enforcement, often leading to tragic lethal outcomes. We are extremely pleased to see enhanced federal Medicaid funding for mobile crisis units. This will help states invest in a needed alternative—mobile crisis teams that provide a mental health response to mental health crises.

We urge the Senate to quickly take up this legislation.”

The COVID-19 Relief Package Includes:

  • $4 billion for state and local mental health and substance use services, school-based mental health programs and workforce training
  • $70 million in funding to promote mental health among health care professionals and first responders
  • Incentives to expand Medicaid coverage, which helps people with mental illness who lack insurance, for the 12 remaining states who have not yet done so
  • $29 billion to help people maintain or get housing, including people with serious mental illness experiencing homelessness
  • Additional federal Medicaid funding to expand Mobile Crisis Teams, which help people experiencing mental health crises

“Unfortunately, a meaningful, bipartisan provision that would provide Medicaid coverage to eligible people 30 days prior to their reentry to the community was stricken because of complicated rules governing the budget reconciliation process,” Gillison said. “We urge Congress to take up the Medicaid Reentry Act immediately.”