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.

Advocacy

Pennsylvania is in a behavioral health crisis. Simply put, there are not enough services available to meet the need.

As a result, many Pennsylvanians are struggling to access behavioral health care, facing long wait lists and other barriers to the services they need. More Pennsylvanians are arriving at hospitals in crisis and often wait days, a week, or even longer in the emergency department because post-acute care is not available. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated these challenges.

Woman in counseling session with female doctor.

HAP is working to:

  • 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 post-acute 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

Supported Legislation

As part of a long-term strategy to address the behavioral health crisis, HAP is advocating for:

  • House Bill 1644, which establishes complex care transition teams to help when inpatient, psychiatric residential treatment, or other settings are unable to discharge patients.

Recent Accomplishments

  • Advocated for supporting behavioral health care in the 2022–2023 state budget, which set aside $100 million in one-time federal funds to be appropriated for adult behavioral health priorities identified by a blue-ribbon commission and included another $100 million for schools to provide mental health services for students or contract with providers to do so.
  • Supported adoption of Act 76 of 2022, which allows for greater flexibility to provide psychiatric services via telehealth.
  • Supported adoption of Acts 32 and 33 of 2022, which improve coordination of physical and behavioral health care for better patient outcomes. The bills update state laws governing sharing of information related to behavioral health care and substance use disorder between providers to align with HIPAA and other federal requirements.

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 (OUD) 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 advocacy. Media inquiries should be directed to Liam Migdail, HAP's director, media relations.


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