Murkowski Champions Mental and Behavioral Health Provisions in FY 2023 Appropriations Package

As a senior appropriator, U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) played a key role in securing numerous mental and behavioral health provisions within the omnibus appropriations package that funds the federal government for the rest of Fiscal Year (FY) 2023

Recognizing the need to bolster mental and behavioral health support in Alaska, Murkowski prioritized suicide prevention programs, treatment and recovery opportunities for those struggling with substance misuse, and expansion of the mental health workforce. She also secured significant mental and behavioral health-related Congressionally Directed Spending (CDS) allocations that were requested by Alaskans.

“Affordable, accessible, and destigmatized mental and behavioral healthcare services are fundamental to quality of life in our communities. I made greater resources for them one of my top priorities in the omnibus because Alaska is disproportionately impacted by substance misuse disorders, faces a lack of mental and behavioral health specialists, and has seen a devastating uptick in death by suicide, particularly among military service members,” Murkowski said. “I’m heartened that three provisions I led were included in the final package; two aim to prevent death by suicide and the other bolsters maternal and postpartum mental health services. We also made sure the omnibus contains significant investments to educate and mentor youth, to help keep them on the safest path possible, and for safe housing to create a safer, more reliable environment for vulnerable individuals to heal. Whether it is prevention, treatment, recovery, or support for individual or family care, our year-end package provides critical resources to help ensure that Alaska’s most vulnerable have the care and support they need, when they need it most.”

Murkowski added the following CDS allocations to the year-end omnibus:

  • Juneau: $870,000 to renovate and expand the JAHMI Health & Wellness specialty behavioral health facility. 
  • Statewide: $350,000 to the Boys & Girls Club of Southcentral Alaska to provide behavioral health support to children and youth. 
  • Anchorage: $290,000 for Providence Alaska to establish and launch the Alaska Psychiatry Residency Program. 
  • Anchorage: $750,000 for construction of a Crisis Stabilization Center at Providence Alaska Medical Center. 
  • Wasilla: $5 million to Set Free Alaska to build a therapeutic campus consisting of recovery residence facilities. 

Mental and behavioral health highlights in the omnibus include:

  • Mainstreaming Addiction Treatment (MAT) Act: Murkowski-led legislation that will vastly increase access to life-saving addiction medicine by eliminating a duplicative bureaucratic hurdle—colloquially known as the “x-waiver”—currently blocking millions of highly trained health professionals from prescribing buprenorphine to their patients.
  • Effective Suicide Screening and Assessment in the Emergency Department: Murkowski-led legislation to provide additional resources for hospital emergency departments to improve screening and care for individuals at risk of suicide, and enhance the coordination of care for such individuals during discharge.
  • Garrett Lee Smith Reauthorization: Murkowski-led legislation to reauthorize a number of suicide prevention programs, including the Suicide Prevention Resource Center, and State and Tribal Youth Suicide Prevention and Early Intervention grants.  
  • Into the Light for Maternal Mental Health: A Murkowski-led provision that reauthorizes and expands programs to screen and treat for maternal mental health and substance use disorders.
  • Crisis Response Pilot Program: Establishes a mental health crisis response pilot program to establish and enhance mobile crisis response teams to respond to mental health and substance use disorder crises.
  • Summer Barrow Prevention, Treatment, and Recovery Act: Reauthorizes programs to address substance use disorder treatment and recovery for homeless individuals, increase access to treatment in areas with high rates of opioid use, support efforts to prevent and respond to underage drinking, and increase access to emergency treatment for opioid overdoses.
  • Peer-Supported Mental Health Services: Directs HHS to award grants to develop, expand, and enhance access to mental health peer-delivered services, with special consideration for the unique needs of rural areas in states like Alaska.
  • Reauthorization of Block Grants for Community Mental Health Services: Reauthorizes and increases funding for the Community Mental Health Block Grant program, with a set-aside for evidence-based crisis care services.
  • Recovery Housing: Includes language clarifying it is the role of SAMSHA to collaborate with national housing organizations, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and other relevant stakeholder to promote the availability of high-quality recovery housing and services for individuals with substance use disorder. 
  • Housing Working Group: Directs the Secretaries of HHS and HUD to convene an interagency working group with all relevant agencies to increase collaboration to promote the availability of housing, including recovery housing, for individuals experiencing homelessness and those with mental illnesses and/or substance use disorders.  
  • Recovery Housing Grants: Authorizes significant funding for grants to states to promote recovery housing availability and develop plans to implement recovery housing best practices. 
  • Behavioral Health and Substance Use Disorder Resources for Native Americans: The Native Behavioral Health Access Improvement Act creates a formula and grant program to help Tribes access resources to address mental health needs and substance-use disorders in their communities. 
  • Media and Mental Health: Directs HHS to conduct or support research on the mental health impacts of smartphone and social media use by adolescents.
  • NOPAIN Act: Legislation co-sponsored by Murkowski to provide a separate Medicare payment for non-opioid treatments to manage pain from surgeries.  
  • Mental Health Access Improvement Act: Legislation co-sponsored by Murkowski which establishes Medicare coverage for services provided by marriage and family therapists and licensed professional counselors beginning January 1, 2024.  


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