Protect Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Services this Session!

Dear [title] [last name],

 

As you prepare for the upcoming 87th Legislative Session, I urge you to support initiatives that ensure people with mental health and substance use disorders can access the services they need. I specifically ask that you:

 

·      Provide funding for Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders and 1115 Waiver DSRIP waiver replacement funds.

An estimated 5.8 million Texans have a mental illness and 1.4 million have a substance use disorder, yet the public behavioral health system only serves a fraction of those who need treatment. This will be further exacerbated by the termination of the 1115 Waiver DSRIP program, which accounted for $212.6 million dollars of public mental health funding in the last fiscal year.

 

·      Increase access to telehealth services

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, telehealth services have been highly utilized. Several studies have found that tele-behavioral health care is as effective as face-to-face intervention. The state has granted several emergency flexibilities to promote the use of telehealth, including ensuring payment parity for telehealth and face-to-face services. However, these flexibilities are set to expire, potentially reducing access for the many Texans who have come to rely upon these services.

 

·      Expand health coverage for the uninsured

Texas’ uninsured rate has climbed to 29% as of May 2020, the worst in the nation, with an additional 659,000 uninsured Texans since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. For people with mental health and substance use disorders, a lack of insurance can reduce access to services and drive emergency utilization, incarceration and homelessness.

 

In light of what many are calling the "secondary pandemic" of mental health and substance use disordersit is more important than ever for people to be able to access the services they need. Ensuring funding for behavioral health services, increasing access to telehealth services, and expanding health coverage for the uninsured are of the utmost importance. I ask that you please support these initiatives to protect and advance the health of vulnerable Texans.

 

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