U.S. Representative Tom Emmer (R-MN) has joined a bipartisan contingent demanding that the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) assess a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) program that is not providing assistance mortgage to acute care hospitals focused on mental health care.
“Mental health care is health care. Our current housing policies are outdated and have created a chronic shortage of psychiatric beds that too often leaves patients on the streets or traps them in a cycle of incarceration,” Rep. Emmer said in a Sept. 6 statement. “We already have the tools to provide care to patients in need. Now is the time to remove arbitrary barriers to care.
The congressman reiterated his position in a Sept. 6 letter sent to Comptroller General Gene Dodaro that was also signed by his colleagues on the U.S. House Financial Services Committee, Ranking Member Rep. Patrick McHenry (R -NC) and Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-NY).
Specifically, lawmakers requested GAO’s assistance in evaluating HUD’s administration of the Section 242 program under the National Housing Act to provide mortgage insurance to acute care hospitals. In creating the Section 242 program, Congress intended to limit HUD’s ability to provide mortgage insurance to these hospitals, which have a 50% restriction on patient days that remains in effect today. according to their letter.
On June 22, Rep. Emmer sponsored the Safer Institutions for Mental Health Services Act, HR 8179, which is co-sponsored by Rep. Torres and would increase the number of psychiatric beds available to patients by eliminating Section 242. of the National Housing Act, the provision prohibiting inpatient psychiatric hospitals from applying for mortgage assistance.
“It’s time for HUD to take stock of the systems that place unnecessary barriers on our most vulnerable citizens so they don’t receive critical treatment,” Rep. Torres said. “We need to take psychiatric care as seriously as health care and start helping those who need it most.”
In their letter, the members asked the GAO to study the impact of allowing inpatient psychiatric hospitals to apply for mortgage assistance and asked for an answer to several questions, such as the number of eligible hospitals that participate. now on the program of section 242 and what the effects would be. on the program if the 50% restriction on patient days were lifted, among other things.