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Shelley Starkey

House Bill Seeks to Address Mental Health Workforce Shortage

August 2, 2018 | Workforce | Comments
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A new bill would establish a loan repayment program for mental health care providers that commit to working in designated high-needs communities. Representatives John Katko (R-NY) and Grace Napolitano (D-CA) introduced the bipartisan legislation, called the Mental Health Professionals Workforce Shortage Loan Repayment Act of 2018 (H.R.6597), to address a critical shortage in the number of mental health care providers across the country.

Under the proposed program, the Health Resources and Services Administration would be responsible for repaying up to $250,000 of an individual’s student loans if they are not already receiving similar benefits from other federal programs. Eligible providers include any person working full-time in a direct treatment or recovery support capacity for patients recovering from a mental illness, broadly speaking.

Currently, over 100 million Americans live in areas where there is a defined shortage of mental health professionals, a disparity that leaves many individuals living with mental illness without access to needed care. “This bipartisan legislation will incentivize students and professionals pursuing careers in mental health care to work in areas of our country desperately in need of more options for care,” said Rep. Katko.  “It will go a long way towards addressing the current critical shortage in the workforce and ensure more people nationwide struggling with mental illness have access to the care they need.”

The National Council applauds Reps. Katko and Napolitano for their leadership on this issue and looks forward to supporting the bill through to passage.