Plan to target mental health issues wins bipartisan Senate support

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Leaders of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committees say the group is planning a package of legislation to tackle mental health and addiction issues.

Roll call: Senate begins work on bipartisan mental health package

Top senators on an influential health committee told a hearing on Tuesday that they plan to work on a bipartisan mental health and addictions agenda this year. The COVID-19 pandemic has seen a record number of drug overdose deaths and an increase in people reporting symptoms of anxiety and depression. Experts renewed their calls for increased resources for children’s mental health, expanded access to telemental health, and expanded continuum of care for those in crisis. (Raman, 2/1)

Modern healthcare: Senators focus on workforce to improve access to mental health

More needs to be done to bolster the health workforce in response to a growing mental health and addictions crisis that the pandemic has made worse, senators said during a hearing on Capitol Hill on Tuesday. Lawmakers hope to pass legislation this year to address gaps in the behavioral health system. There is growing evidence that the existing workforce is insufficient to meet the needs of the public. The status quo does a particularly bad job for children and young adults at a time when the death rate from suicide among these groups was rising even before COVID-19 surfaced. (Hellman, 2/1)

In FDA Candidate Updates —

Politico: Top Republican throws cold water on struggling FDA nominee

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) — one of the few upper house Republicans the Biden administration was counting on to save the embattled nomination of Robert Califf to head the FDA — told POLITICO on Tuesday that he was skeptical The White House is fully behind the candidate. “I like him,” Blunt said of Califf. “But I haven’t made a final decision on that yet and I don’t intend to until the administration seems really ready to move his name forward.” (Ollstein and Lim, 2/1)

In Capitol Hill covid news —

NBC News: House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer has ‘mild symptoms’ after testing positive for Covid-19

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said on Tuesday he was experiencing “mild symptoms” after testing positive for Covid-19, making him the latest of dozens of lawmakers to contract the virus during the pandemic. “Luckily, I am fully vaccinated and have already received my booster dose,” the 82-year-old Democrat from Maryland said in a statement. (Gregorian, 2/1)

The Hill: GOP senator tests positive for COVID-19

Sen. John Hoeven (RN.D.) announced on Tuesday that he had tested positive for COVID-19 in a breakthrough case of the virus. “Although asymptomatic, I tested positive for COVID-19 this afternoon. I have seen the Senate doctor and will continue to follow the recommendations of my health care provider,” he said. said in a statement (Vakil, 2/1)

USA Today: Senators try to uproot fake masks

Three Democratic senators are urging the Justice Department to tackle the proliferation of fake N95 and KN95 masks on the market, a growing problem as Americans seek better protection against the highly infectious omicron variant. In a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland, Senators Edward Markey and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut point out that consumers are finding more and more fraudulent masks for sale, and it can be difficult to tell if they are legitimate. , especially when buying online. . (Ortiz, Yancey-Bragg, Thornton and Tebor, 2/1)

As well –

Bloomberg: Democratic Senator Lujan is recovering from stroke surgery

Democratic Sen. Ben Ray Lujan of New Mexico is recovering from stroke surgery at a New Mexico hospital, but is expected to make a full recovery. The 49-year-old senator began experiencing dizziness and fatigue on Thursday and checked himself into Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center in Santa Fe. He was transferred to the University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque, diagnosed with a cerebellar stroke, affecting his balance. An official statement on his health did not specify how long Lujan would be hospitalized. (Denis, 2/1)

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage by major news outlets. Sign up for an email subscription.

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