HEALTH CARE BRIEFING: Mental Health Bill Eyes Interagency Effort

Bloomberg Government subscribers get the stories like this first. Act now and gain unlimited access to everything you need to know. Learn more.

Mental health services would get a funding boost in bipartisan legislation set to be unveiled Tuesday that aims to improve coordination between agencies focusing on opioid addiction services and paying for treatment.

The measure, from Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), would provide a path for expanding existing health coverage plans and coordination between the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to better help individuals with serious mental illness.

The Mental Health Reform Reauthorization Act of 2022 would also authorize $25 million for states to enforce existing mental health parity laws, which require that insurers cover mental health care to the same extent as other services.

Mental health has been a main focus for both parties in Congress as well as the White House, taking up much space during congressional hearings and administration policy pushes. House lawmakers May 6 introduced legislation that would reauthorize several federal health programs and require non-government plans to comply with mental health parity laws.

Murphy also noted that “we’re sensitive to the appetite right now for a lot of new programs,” though noted skepticism from Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions ranking member Richard Burr (R-N.C.) “about the utility of new programs.” Read more from Ian Lopez.

Also Happening on the Hill

Democrats Snub Covid Aid From Ukraine Bill: Democrats have drafted a $39.8 billion Ukraine aid package and plan to vote on it this week without attaching Covid pandemic funding. President Joe Biden told lawmakers to separate the two requests to avoid stalling the Ukraine funding. The House could vote as soon as Tuesday on the Ukraine package, people familiar with the plans said. Republicans haven’t yet signed onto the bill, but pulling the $10 billion request for Covid vaccines and treatments may help break the Senate impasse over the aid. Read more from Erik Wasson.

Top Senate Democrats on Monday night were unclear when exactly either chamber of Congress might take up Covid aid. “We’re going to have real problems this fall with Covid—it’s a mistake not to have both together,” Appropriations Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said. Meanwhile, Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), a lead negotiator on Covid funds, said he’s waiting on Democrats to agree on allowing amendments. Republicans want to vote on halting Biden’s move to nix Title 42, the pandemic-era immigration policy that allowed swift deportations, Alex Ruoff reports.

McConnell Says He Wouldn’t Kill Filibuster for Abortion Bill: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) claimed Monday that he wouldn’t support any push to undo the Senate’s filibuster rule in order to pass a national abortion ban if his party wins the Senate. “I will never, never support smashing the legislative filibuster on this issue or any other,” McConnell said. He’s backed measures to restrict abortion rights, but a 60-vote threshold to advance most Senate bills means such an effort would be unlikely to succeed in a narrowly split chamber. Steven T. Dennis has more.

  • Pro-choice supporters don’t plan to let the weeks leading up to the Supreme Court’s official ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, expected this summer, to pass by quietly: A coalition of over 30 advocacy groups are organizing a nationwide day of protests on May 14. Groups including Planned Parenthood, MoveOn, UltraViolet and Women’s March, have announced that “Bans Off Our Bodies” rallies will occur that day across the country, including “anchor” events in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and Washington, D.C. Ella Ceron has more.
  • Meanwhile, legislators pushing for a stricter anti-abortion law in Louisiana have lost the support of a major lobbying group because the bill would permit homicide charges against those who end pregnancies. The bill is inconsistent with the Louisiana Right to Life’s agenda because it “does not exempt women from criminalization,” the group said. It added that it only endorses criminal charges against those who perform abortions or provide abortion medication, Jennifer Kay reports.

Nominations: On Monday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer scheduled a Wednesday vote to advance the nomination of Alvaro Bedoya to the Federal Trade Commission, Steven T. Dennis reports.

BGOV OnPoint: Potential Committee Chairs in the 118th Congress: Several House and Senate committee leaders have announced their retirements ahead of the 2022 midterm elections, ramping up jockeying for leadership roles in the 118th Congress. Download the new BGOV OnPoint to read about committees’ outlooks.

What Else to Know Today

Drug Sponsors Get Clarity on FDA Reviews: The risk of imprecise drug dosing is among the issues the FDA reviews to decide if a drugmaker’s development and manufacturing process will result in a product of acceptable quality, the FDA said in draft guidance Monday. The document seeks to clarify how the Food and Drug Administration reviews risks and potential mitigation strategies for quality-related issues. The recommendations aim to help sponsors of new drug find the proper information to give the FDA to show their product’s quality won’t be harmed. Celine Castronuovo has more.

More Headlines:

With assistance from Alex Ruoff

To contact the reporter on this story: Brandon Lee in Washington at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Giuseppe Macri at; Michaela Ross at

Stay informed with more news like this – from the largest team of reporters on Capitol Hill – subscribe to Bloomberg Government today. Learn more.