Late last year, Congress ended the legislative year with the passage of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, a 4,152-page bill also known as the “Omnibus.” This legislation establishes the 2023 federal budget and the creation/reauthorization of programs across the government. Reflecting the many recent societal challenges faced by Americans, mental health issues were a significant winner in this funding process. DBSA is excited that two legislative initiatives saw final approval while a third made substantial strides.   

  • Expansion of the use of Peer Support Specialists within the Veterans Administration Hospital system to all 160 hospitals over the next six years. 
  • A new program at SAMHSA with $13 million for virtual peer-supported mental health services.  

Left on the proverbial cutting room floor is an initiative to create a federal definition of a mental health Peer Support Specialist. So too, another to permit Medicare to reimburse providers for peer support services. However, the legislation opened the door by authorizing limited reimbursement for peer support services in crisis response programs.   

Where does this leave us moving forward? There is hope that, as addressing behavioral health issues is seen as one of the few issues with bipartisan support, we can continue to make progress even with the current political gridlock.  

Stay tuned to Making Mental Health Matter for new developments in expanding access to peer support. 

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