Senate passes Kaine bill promoting healthcare provider mental health
The Senate this week voted to approve legislation introduced by Sen. Tim Kaine to prevent burnout, suicide, and mental and behavioral health issues in healthcare workers.
The bicameral Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act, reintroduced by Kaine in March, is named after a Charlottesville-born physician who died by suicide while working on the frontlines of the pandemic in New York last year.
Kaine was joined in introducing the legislation by U.S. Senators Todd Young (R-IN), Jack Reed (D-RI), and Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA).
The bill now awaits action in the House of Representatives.
“Even before the pandemic, far too many health care workers suffered from work-related burnout and depression,” said Kaine. “Unfortunately, these mental health challenges have only been exacerbated during COVID-19, putting the well-being of our healers at risk. I’m proud to see my bipartisan Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act, legislation to equip our medical professionals with resources to cope with the challenges they face, pass the Senate and get one step closer to becoming law.”
“Doctors, nurses and health care workers shoulder the responsibility of saving lives and have worked overtime during the pandemic,” said Dr. Cassidy. “Passing this bill through the Senate is one step closer to providing an important lifeline for medical professionals so they too can get the care they need.”
The Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act will:
- Establish grants for training health care professionals or trainees in strategies to address mental health and substance use disorders.
- Require identification and dissemination of best practices for preventing suicide and improving mental health and resiliency among health care professionals.
- Establish a national education and awareness initiative to encourage health care professionals to seek support and care for mental health and substance use concerns.
- Establish grants to health care entities (e.g., hospitals, community health centers, and rural health clinics) for health care provider education, the establishment of programs to prevent suicide and improve mental health among health care professionals, peer-support programming, and mental health treatment. Health care providers in health professional shortage areas or rural areas will be prioritized.
- Require a review related to improving health care professional mental health and resiliency, including the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on such professionals’ health and the barriers professionals face when seeking and accessing mental health care.
Some provisions modeled after the Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act were funded by the American Rescue Plan Act, signed into law in March. This Senate-passed bill would authorize the legislation, including elements that weren’t part of the American Rescue Plan.