WASHINGTON–As a leader on mental health reform in the Senate, U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), a member of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee and the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, helped secure historic amounts of funding in the fiscal year 2023 omnibus appropriations bill to expand access to mental health care, enforce parity protections, and build a pipeline of mental health care providers. Between the omnibus and the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, all of the provisions in Murphy’s Mental Health Reform Reauthorization Act were passed into law in the 117th Congress.

“Our country continues to tolerate a health care system that doesn't have the resources to match the millions of Americans who face mental health crisis.  I don't accept this reality, and that's why over the last year, I worked with my colleagues to put billions of new dollars into helping more Americans access the mental health care they deserve. From ensuring insurance companies cover mental health just like physical health to making it easier for parents to find and afford care for their children, we’ve made huge strides in addressing our broken health care system,” said Murphy.

Murphy’s mental health priorities included in the FY23 omnibus:

Investing in Mental Health: Murphy supported the inclusion of:

  • $191.1 million for the Employee Benefits Security Administration, an increase of $5.6 million from FY22, to strengthen oversight over mental health parity laws.
  • $1.01 billion for Mental Health Block Grants, a $150 million increase over FY22.
  • $25 million for Graduate Psychology Education, a $5 million increase over FY22.
  • $55.877 million for Primary and Behavioral Health Care Integration.

Expanding and Maintaining the Behavioral Health System: The omnibus reauthorized and expanded over 30 programs that support mental health and substance use disorder continuum of care, including 12 programs Murphy championed in his Mental Health Reform Reauthorization Act with U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy (R-La.):

  • The Mental Health Block Grant, which provides states with flexible funding to provide comprehensive community mental health services, was reauthorized with a 5% set-aside for crisis care.
  • Grants for Jail Diversion, which provides funds to states to help justice-involved individuals with mental health or substance use disorder access necessary treatment.
  • Assisted Outpatient Treatment, which provides access to treatment options for individuals with serious mental illness.
  • Programs for Assistance in Transition from Homelessness, which supports activities to help unhoused individuals with mental illness exit homelessness.
  • Minority Fellowship Program, which increases providers’ competency at providing culturally-sensitive mental health and substance use disorder care for racial and ethnic minorities.
  • Priority Mental Health Needs of National Significance, which provides flexible funding for activities in priority areas of mental health need.
  • The National Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Policy Laboratory, which identifies and implements clinical, research and policy initiatives to improve use of evidence-based practices across SAMHSA programs.
  • Programs for Children with Serious Emotional Disturbance, which provides comprehensive community-based mental health services for these children and their families.
  • Mental and Behavioral Health Education and Training Grants, which strengthen the behavioral health workforce.
  • Promoting Integration of Primary Care and Behavioral Health, which funds projects to integrate mental and physical health services.

Strengthening Mental Health Parity Protections: Murphy fought to include two provisions in the omnibus that will help ensure more consumers have access to health insurance plans that provide adequate coverage for mental health services.

  • The law authorizes $10 million annually in grants to states to help them enforce mental health parity laws. Murphy introduced these grants in his Parity Implementation Assistance Act.
  • The law also extends mental health parity to state and local government workers, eliminating the ability of health plans to opt out—a provision that was included in Murphy’s Mental Health Reform Reauthorization Act.

The fiscal year 2023 omnibus appropriations bill also included more than $236 million for congressionally directed spending projects in Connecticut and billions more to upgrade the Northeast Corridor, combat gun violence, support under-resourced communities, and promote national security.