March 28, 2024


Earlier this month, President Biden released his budget proposal for the 2025 Fiscal Year. The proposal includes a funding request for mental and behavioral health care as the nation continues to navigate elevated demands for mental health services since the pandemic. This is an area in which American employers have been leading.

As mental health challenges continue to evolve, so must our response, and that’s why employers have been investing in solutions to support their workforce. It’s a case where what’s good for employees is good for employers. Quality mental health care is increasingly becoming a priority for workers, and employers are responding by enhancing access to offerings and putting in place workplace programs to support mental wellness.

But employers can’t do it alone. That’s why the Protecting Americans’ Coverage Together (PACT), a coalition of employer voices dedicated to strengthening the employer-sponsored insurance (ESI) system, recently introduced and shared its mental health policy recommendations with relevant congressional committees and the White House.

Today, there are not enough mental health professionals to meet the rising demand from patients. Costs and site-of-care barriers are restricting access, and physical and mental health care are too often treated separately. In the letter to Congress and the White House, PACT laid out three mental health policy pillars: increasing access to mental health care via telehealth, building a stronger provider workforce, and better integrating mental and physical health care.

These three solutions build upon the successful work employers are already doing to support their employees and ensure we can respond to a range of mental health challenges in the future.

  • Expanding access to telehealth: During the COVID-19 pandemic, temporary telehealth flexibilities gave patients greater access to behavioral health providers. This gave patients the ability to obtain treatment from providers beyond their immediate geographic area, which mitigated barriers in communities hamstrung by workforce shortages. Making these flexibilities permanent would reduce travel and stigma barriers, lower costs, and address workforce barriers for patients.
  • Strengthening the provider workforce: The demand for mental and behavioral health services is growing tremendously, but there is a shortage of quality providers in far too many communities, particularly in rural and underserved communities. Training additional providers, including non-clinical behavioral health providers and primary care providers, along with supporting additional community services to fill in gaps in care, can strengthen the workforce and help providers meet the growing demand for mental and behavioral health care.
  • Integrating mental and physical health care: Mental, behavioral, and physical health conditions are often interrelated and complex. Integrating care can improve outcomes, reduce unnecessary costs, strengthen overall health outcomes, and mitigate any remaining stigma around mental health conditions.

Bottom line: Accessing quality mental health care remains a challenge for many Americans. Employers are working to provide their employees with access to the care they need, but more work must be done. Employers are committed to working with the Administration and Congress to strengthen mental and behavioral health care for American workers.

About the authors

Protecting Americans’ Coverage Together (PACT)

The Protecting Americans’ Coverage Together (PACT) is a coalition of leading business voices that are dedicated to strengthening the support of ESI for families that depend on this system for the physical and mental well-being. Its members include the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Business Roundtable, the National Association of Manufacturers, Council for Affordable Health Coverage, and Vermeer Corporation.

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