Increasing Access to Behavioral Health Care

HAP supports strategies to expand and sustain Pennsylvanians’ access to behavioral health care by increasing services throughout all care settings, strengthening the behavioral health workforce, and improving care delivery and payment models.

Increasing Access to Behavioral Health Care

Pennsylvania does not have enough behavioral health care services to meet a growing need. Many Pennsylvanians are struggling to find appropriate care, facing long wait lists and other barriers.

More Pennsylvanians are arriving in crisis at hospital emergency rooms, where they receive emergency care but often wait days, a week, or even longer to be transferred to the appropriate setting for the behavioral health care they need. This delays patients’ care and leaves fewer beds—and staff—are available for other patients who need acute care.

These challenges are exacerbated by workforce shortages and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Woman in counseling session with female doctor.

HAP’s Advocacy in Pennsylvania

Last year, a Behavioral Health Commission for Adult Mental Health issued recommendations for spending $100 million in one-time, federal funding set aside in the state budget to support adult mental health. HAP urges the General Assembly and administration to quickly adopt the commission’s recommendations.

HAP continues to highlight the behavioral health crisis and advocate for policies that:

  • Expand behavioral health services throughout all care settings so that Pennsylvanians can access care when and where they need it
  • Grow the behavioral health workforce needed to support better access to services
  • Ensure that payment to behavioral health providers accurately reflects the cost of care so that providers have the resources to offer the competitive wages needed to attract and retain behavioral health and support professionals
  • Reduce strain on hospital emergency departments by securing support and resources to facilitate placement of patients with complex behavioral health care needs into appropriate care settings
  • Remove barriers to expanding the use of telehealth to deliver behavioral health services
  • Expand the role of advanced practice professionals in the behavioral health care setting to improve access to needed services

Federal Advocacy

During December 2022, Congress approved a $1.7 trillion year-long funding bill that supports behavioral health care by expanding mental health treatment via 200 graduate medical education slots, improving intensive outpatient policies, and improving marriage and family therapist coverage, along with other priorities supported by HAP and the American Hospital Association.

HAP Opioid Learning Action Network

The HAP Opioid Learning Action Network (LAN), funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies, was a two-year project that supported Pennsylvania’s hospitals in working collectively to identify, create, and disseminate promising practices to measurably increase the number of patients entering evidence-based treatment for opioid use disorders and reduce overdose deaths.

For additional information about behavioral health, go to HAP’s Resource Center.

HAP Contacts

For more information, contact Jennifer Jordan, vice president, regulatory, behavioral health and equity strategy. Media inquiries should be directed to Liam Migdail, HAP's director, media relations.

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