U.S. Representative Tom Emmer (R-MN) is spearheading an effort to review Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) mortgage assistance to acute care hospitals.
Currently, facilities that focus on mental health care are the only type of acute care hospitals unable to receive federal mortgage assistance.
Emmer sent a letter to Comptroller General Gene Dodaro requesting a study of HUD mortgage assistance to acute care hospitals. He also requested that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) study the impact of allowing inpatient psychiatric hospitals to apply for mortgage assistance. Currently, these facilities are not permitted.
Joining Emmer in this effort are Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC), ranking member on the Financial Services Committee, and Ritchie Torres (D-NY).
“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 Our current housing policies are outdated and have created a chronic shortage of psychiatric beds that too often leaves patients on the streets or locks them into a cycle of incarceration,” Emmer said. “We already have the tools to provide care to patients in need. Now is the time to remove arbitrary barriers to care.
In June 2022, Emmer and Torres introduced legislation, the Safer Institutions for Mental Health Services Act, to increase the number of psychiatric beds available to patients by removing Section 242 of the National Mental Health Services Act. lodging. This provision prohibits inpatient psychiatric hospitals from applying for mortgage assistance.
“Mental health services in our country are fundamentally flawed. It’s time for HUD to take stock of the systems that unnecessarily prevent our most vulnerable citizens from receiving critical treatment. We need to take psychiatric care as seriously as health care and start helping those who need it most,” Torres said.
A study published by the National Institutes of Health in 2021 found that the United States has 21 psychiatric beds per 100,000 people, about 40% less than the estimated number of beds needed.
In 2018, Emmer introduced the STRESS Act to ensure rural areas and farming communities have better access to mental health counselors and specialists. In 2021, he introduced the 2021 Expanding Access to Inpatient Mental Health Act, which would close an arbitrary cap on mental health services for mental illness facilities. Last June, his bill, the Due Process Continuity of Care Act — which would continue Medicaid mental health coverage for juveniles detained while awaiting trial — passed the House of Representatives.