U.S. Rep. Underwood Pushes for Increased Access to Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services
In May 2021, U.S. Representative Lauren Underwood, RN (D-IL), introduced the Primary and Behavioral Health Care Access Act (https://underwood.house.gov/media/press-releases/underwood-introduces-legislation-make-primary-care-mental-health-care-and) that, if passed, would require private health insurance plans to cover three primary care visits and three behavioral health or substance abuse disorder visits per year without cost sharing. Underwood’s goal was to promote legislation that would make health care more accessible and affordable.
U.S. Representatives Kim Schrier, MD (D-WA), and Katie Porter (D-CA) cosponsored the bill, which addressed many aspects of mental health (https://voice.ons.org/news-and-views/multimethod-approach-supports-providers-mental-health-during-covid-19), especially during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
“In Illinois, people are asked to pay hundreds of dollars out of their pockets just to see their primary care doctor for a cold or to get treatment for a mental health condition like anxiety, depression, or addiction—the kind of care that benefits individuals and keeps our communities healthy,” Underwood said (https://underwood.house.gov/media/press-releases/underwood-introduces-legislation-make-primary-care-mental-health-care-and). “In a pandemic, it’s more important than ever that we enact the Primary and Behavioral Health Care Access Act (https://underwood.house.gov/media/press-releases/underwood-introduces-legislation-make-primary-care-mental-health-care-and) to ensure that financial barriers don’t come between Illinoisans and the primary and mental health care they need.”
Cancer is one of the most expensive health conditions (https://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/about/costs/index.htm), and oncology nurses have a responsibility to manage financial toxicities (https://voice.ons.org/conferences/oncology-nurses-have-a-responsibility-to-manage-the-financial-toxicities-of-cancer). ONS has joined other national nursing, medical, and psychological associations to support Underwood's legislation and advocate for access to quality care (https://www.ons.org/make-difference/ons-center-advocacy-and-health-policy/position-statements/access-quality-cancer). Get involved with the ONS Center for Advocacy and Health Policy (https://www.ons.org/make-difference/ons-center-advocacy-and-health-policy?ref=RO) to learn how to advocate for improved access to care for all patients (https://voice.ons.org/advocacy/get-involved-in-onss-health-policy-advocacy), no matter their socioeconomic status (https://voice.ons.org/topic/patient-financial-advocacy).