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Michael Petruzzelli

, National Council for Mental Wellbeing

Latest Draft of 21st Century Cures Draft Bill Released by House Committee

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Today, the House Energy and Commerce Committee held a hearing to discuss the recently updated discussion draft of the 21st Century Cures legislation. The comprehensive draft aims to spark improvements and innovation throughout the US health system. Of particular importance to behavioral health providers is the inclusion of placeholder language indicating that the final bill will address health information technology and telehealth practices, important initiatives that had been rumored to be on the chopping block earlier this month.

The 21st Century Cures Initiative is a wide-ranging legislative agenda designed to foster comprehensive improvements and innovation in the US health system, including by eliminating barriers to providing telehealth services. Eliminating these barriers would expand American’s access to mental health and substance use treatment services in rural areas where options are scarce.  Despite indications that the committee was planning to remove the telehealth portions of the bill, after strong pushback from advocacy and patient protection groups, the placeholder language was retained in the discussion draft. The committee will expand upon and finalize this placeholder language at a later date. The National Council thanks the advocates who took the time to tell their Member of Congress why telehealth funding is important to the advancement and expansion of mental health and substance use services.

Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) said recently that he hopes to have a bill introduced in the House by June and to the President by the end of the year.