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HAP Urges Pa. Leaders to Support Behavioral Health

January 17, 2023

Pennsylvania’s elected leaders must take swift action to invest in the commonwealth’s behavioral health care system to ensure patients have timely access to care.

In a letter today to state House and Senate leaders, HAP President and CEO Andy Carter urged lawmakers to “act as quickly as possible to authorize expenditures” recommended by the state’s new Behavioral Health Commission for Adult Mental Health.

“The commonwealth’s hospitals are overwhelmed by the increasing number of Pennsylvanians presenting with mental health conditions and the decreasing availability of behavioral health services statewide,” Carter wrote. “This lack of services not only impedes progress for patients with mental health concerns, it also negatively affects others who need care.”

Last year, the General Assembly included in the state budget $100 million in one-time funding to support adult behavioral health services. The behavioral health commission has recommended targeted investments to bolster behavioral health in the following areas:

  • Stabilizing, strengthening, and expanding the workforce
  • Improving the criminal justice and public safety systems
  • Expanding capacity for services and supports

The state must “incentivize, invest in, retain, and grow the health care workforce” to address the state’s behavioral health crisis, Carter wrote. Beyond the $100 million in adult behavioral health funding, the state must consider its pediatric mental health needs, he added.

“While all practitioners need help in all settings, the shortage of behavioral health clinicians and support professionals is profound—53 of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties (nearly 80%) are designated as full or partial Mental Health Professional Shortage Areas,” he wrote.

HAP continues to highlight the behavioral health crisis and the policies and regulations that are needed to expand and sustain Pennsylvanians’ access to behavioral health care. Last week, HAP and a coalition of Pennsylvania providers urged state lawmakers to “expedite the release of the critically needed $100 million in mental health resources” and outlined the state’s top health care priorities.

For questions, contact Heather Tyler, vice president, state legislative advocacy.