President Biden to Sign Legislation to Promote Provider Mental Health and Resilience
In response to the ongoing mental health crisis impacting health care providers and students as a result of COVID-19, President Biden is expected to sign the Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act into law. This critical PAEA-endorsed legislation aims to significantly strengthen the federal response to high levels of substance use and mental health disorders among clinicians while providing students with the tools necessary to promote resilience as they enter the workforce.
Inspired by Dr. Lorna Breen, an emergency medicine physician who tragically died by suicide following the unprecedented burden placed upon her health system during the initial wave of COVID-19 in the spring of 2020, the legislation devotes new federal resources to meet the mental health needs of the current and future health workforce. Specifically, the legislation authorizes $35 million annually through fiscal year 2024 to allow grantees like health professions schools to support the training of students and providers in evidence-based strategies that assist health care professionals in combatting mental and substance use disorders. In addition to authorizing funding, the law also requires the Department of Health and Human Services and the Government Accountability Office to issue reports examining the effectiveness of this program in promoting clinicians’ mental health, reducing barriers to providers seeking treatment, and preparing the workforce to address future public health crises like COVID-19.
The Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act codifies and builds upon initial investments in provider mental health made by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) in early 2021. To immediately address the crisis, the ARPA provided $80 million to support health professions schools and other stakeholders in developing training activities to support resilience among students and providers. In January, the Department of Health and Human Services announced the disbursement of funding to 34 grantees to support these activities. By formally authorizing this program, the enactment of the Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act signals congressional intent to support its long-term operation as providers and students continue to recover from the impact of COVID-19.
As Congress continues to develop legislative proposals to both support providers and students and expand access to mental health services for all patients, PAEA’s Government Relations team will continue its vigorous advocacy on behalf of programs and the profession. Members with questions on the Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act or PAEA’s advocacy activities are invited to contact Tyler Smith at tsmith@PAEAonline.org.