Washington – A provision added to a new mental health reform bill provides easier access to comprehensive health services for children who receive care at in-patient psychiatric and mental health centers, creating better continuity of care for those children.

The Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act  (H.R. 2646) was first drafted in response to the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012. Long stalled in Congress, today it passed unanimously with modest revisions.

In a notable step forward, Section 206 of the bill allows children receiving Medicaid-covered inpatient psychiatric hospital services to be eligible for the full range of Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic, and Treatment – so-called EPSDT – services from the provider of their choice effective January 1, 2019.

“I am pleased to see bipartisan support for the provision in Section 206 of this bill,” said Bruce Lesley, president of First Focus Campaign for Children. “This provision ensures that children who are receiving inpatient psychiatric care, can continue to receive care from their medical home while they are hospitalized. Not only does this provide continuity of care while they are in placement, it also assures that same continuity of care when they return to their home and community. I commend policymakers for joining together to address this long-overdue inequity in comprehensive benefits for children. Our kids deserve better, and I hope Congress continues to do right by them.”


The First Focus Campaign for Children is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization affiliated with First Focus, a bipartisan children’s advocacy organization. The Campaign for Children advocates directly for legislative change in Congress to ensure children and families are a priority in federal policy and budget decisions. For more information, visit www.campaignforchildren.org.