Pass the Behavioral Health Crisis Services Expansion Act

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Congress should pass the Behavioral Health Crisis Services Expansion Act to ensure communities have the resources they need to provide services for people experiencing a mental health or substance use (MH/SUD, or “behavioral health”) crisis.[1][2]


More than one in five U.S. adults is estimated to live with a mental health condition (57.8 million in 2021), and almost half of adolescents will experience a mental health condition in their lifetime.[3] Crisis services are a critical part of a community’s response to MH/SUDs, because these services can help divert people away from emergency rooms, psychiatric hospitalization, and interventions by law enforcement.[4] For instance, crisis stabilization services can provide short-term observation by MH/SUDprofessionals in a non-hospital environment.[4]

The Behavioral Health Crisis Services Expansion Act would establish national requirements for MH/SUD crisis services and expand health insurance coverage for these services, including within Medicare, Medicaid, ACA health plans, employer-sponsored coverage, the Veterans Administration,  TRICARE, and the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program.[2][3] The bill would also provide funding and technical assistance for communities to deliver behavioral health crisis services and establish an expert panel that will make recommendations to improve coordination and integration between 911 dispatchers and 988 Crisis and Suicide Prevention Hotline call centers in cases involving MH/SUD crises.[2][3]


1. Behavioral Health Crisis Services Expansion Act. S. 1902 (Cortez Masto-Cornyn) and H.R. 5611 (Blunt Rochester-Fitzpatrick), 117th Congress (2021-2022). Last Accessed July 24, 2023.

2. Sen. Cortez-Masto and Sen. Cornyn Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Overhaul Nationwide Mental Health Crisis Response. Last Updated June 1, 2021.

3. National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Mental Health. Mental Health Information Statistics. Last Accessed August 8, 2023.

4. Saunders, Heather et al. “Behavioral Health Crisis Response: Findings from a Survey of State Medicaid Programs”. Kaiser Family Foundations. Last Updated May 25, 2023.