Press Releases

Kuster Ushers Bipartisan Addiction and Mental Health Task Force Legislation Through Energy and Commerce Committee

**The hearing also included legislation Kuster helped introduce, the KIDS CARES Act**

**The full Subcommittee hearing is available HERE**

**Rep. Kuster’s full remarks are available HERE**


Washington, D.C. — Today during an Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee hearing, Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02), founder and co-chair of the Bipartisan Addiction and Mental Health Task Force, advocated for five pieces of mental health-focused legislation that were included in the Task Force’s 2021 Legislative Agenda. The hearing, entitled, “Communities in Need: Legislation to Support Mental Health and Well-Being," focused on bills to bolster our national response to the mental health crisis across the country.


“In New Hampshire, we saw very early on the devastation of the mental health and addiction epidemic,” said Rep. Kuster. “While the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated this crisis and pulled back the curtain on the extent of the epidemic, it did not create it. That’s why I founded the Bipartisan Heroin Task Force in 2015, and why I am proud the Task Force — now the Bipartisan Addiction and Mental Health Task Force — has grown to include 145 members from both sides of the aisle, working to bring an end to the crisis.”


Rep. Kuster continued, “This legislative hearing, which included many bills from the Task Force’s 2021 Legislative Agenda, is a critical step to ensuring those struggling with addiction and mental health get the support they need. We must continue to build on the long history of bipartisanship in this Committee in addressing the evolving addiction crisis and continue to bring forward legislation that reflects the needs of our communities and turn the tide on the epidemic.”


The Health Subcommittee discussed five pieces of legislation included in the Task Force’s 2021 Legislative Agenda:


  • H.R. 2376, the “Excellence in Recovery Housing Act”
    • Require the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), along with national accrediting entities and reputable providers of recovery housing services, to develop guidelines for states to promote the availability of high-quality recovery housing.
  • H.R. 2929, the “Virtual Peer Support Act”
    • Create a $50 million grant program to help behavioral health organizations implement or expand their virtual peer support programs and build out their current online capacity. Virtual peer support programs have been proven to be a cost-effective way of providing consistent mental health support, reducing psychiatric hospitalizations, reducing outpatient visits, and giving people living with behavioral conditions a place to build community, share coping skills, and offer support to assist one another in their recovery journeys.
  • H.R. 4944, “Helping Kids Cope Act of 2021”
    • Provides funding to support pediatric behavioral health care integration and coordination, and to support training and other workforce innovations at children’s hospitals, pediatric delivery settings, and other settings.
  • H.R. 5218, the “Collaborate in an Orderly and Cohesive Manner Act”
    • Provide grants to primary care providers to invest in the Collaborative Care Model, a specific care delivery model that integrates behavioral health care within the primary care setting for the treatment of mental health and substance use disorders that require regular follow-up, like depression, anxiety, and substance abuse. 
  • H.R. 7232, the “9–8–8 and Parity Assistance Act of 2022”
    • Establish a Behavioral Health Crisis Coordinating Office within SAMHSA and create a new Regional and Local Lifeline Call Center Grant Program and Mental Health Crisis Response Partnership Pilot Program. In addition, the bill broadens HRSA Health Center Capital Grants to include crisis receiving and stabilization programs, including call centers. Finally, the bill also requires the Secretary of HHS to award grants to states to implement mental health parity and provides $25 million annually for five fiscal years following enactment.
      • This is an expanded version of H.R. 3753, the Parity Implementation Assistance Act, which was included in the Task Force’s 2021 Legislative Agenda.


The Bipartisan Addiction and Mental Health Task Force merges Rep. Kuster’s Bipartisan Opioid Task Force and Rep. David Trone’s Freshmen Working Group on Addiction to create a united front in Congress to address the addiction epidemic and ensure mental health is part of the national response. The purpose of the new Task Force is to build on previous efforts to make the most progress possible on addiction and mental health in the 117th Congress.


The Task Force’s full 2021 Legislative Agenda is available HERE.