WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan, a member of the health care subcommittee of the Senate Finance Committee, discussed ways to address substance use disorder and improve mental health services at a hearing yesterday.
To watch the Senator’s questioning, click here.
Supporting the Substance Use Disorder Workforce
“Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, our health care system was grappling with an unprecedented workforce shortage,” Senator Hassan said. “Today – as more and more Americans are struggling to access mental health and substance use disorder treatment services – it’s critical that Congress ensures robust support for the behavioral health workforce.”
To address this problem, Senator Hassan and Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) recently reintroduced the Opioid Workforce Act to create 1,000 new medical residency positions focused on addiction medicine at teaching hospitals in New Hampshire, Maine, and across the country.
Dr. Stephanie Woodard, Senior Advisor on Behavioral Health at the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services, shared a number of ways to support these providers, including offering educational and professional opportunities in their own communities.
Providing Equitable Access to Telehealth for Mental Health Services
“The dramatic expansion of telehealth during the pandemic has increased access to mental health services for many Americans,” said Senator Hassan. “But rural residents, low-income individuals, and communities of color have faced unique hurdles accessing the technology needed to get mental health telehealth services.”
Victor R. Armstrong, Director Of North Carolina Division Of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities, and Substance Abuse Services at the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, agreed on the need to expand broadband access in rural communities.
Senator Hassan is working to expand reliable broadband access, especially to rural and underserved communities. The year-end December relief package included $33 million to support broadband mapping under the Broadband DATA Act, which Senator Hassan cosponsored and the President signed into law. Senator Hassan also successfully worked to include $7 billion in funding for the E-Rate program in the American Rescue Plan, which will direct funds to help schools provide Wi-Fi hotspots, modems, routers, and internet-enabled devices, including internet service through such equipment, to students.