Panaramic photo of the US Capitol building

NASMHPD's key initiative is advocating to government leaders to improve behavioral health services by promoting access to high-quality services and reforming our nation's healthcare delivery system. Our public policy staff ensures that we advocate for key federal legislation and regulations.



Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act of 2004 (MIOTCRA), P.L. 108-732, 118 STATS 2327-2336 , passed unanimously by Congress and signed by President George W. Bush on October 30, 2004. MIOTCRA provides grant funding to states/territories, local jurisdictions and organizations to facilitate programs that provide collaboration among criminal justice and behavioral health systems to ensure access to treatment and services for adults or juveniles with a mental illness or co-occurring addiction disorders who are in the criminal justice systems. The grants have funded a variety of best practices programs, such as mental health courts and crisis intervention teams.

On March 22, 2012, NASMHPD and NASADAD jointly sponsored a Congressional briefing on the impact of the state budget crisis and treatment gap on the public mental health and addiction treatment systems across the United States. During the briefing, a panel of mental health and addiction experts described the impact of state budget cuts on the behavioral health system and impact on persons recovering from mental health and addiction disorders and other community sectors, such as law enforcement, emergency departments, and the healthcare delivery system.
Briefing Overview
(PDF, 1.4 MB)

On February 16, 2011, NASMHMD hosted a special Senate briefing on the economy's impact on lower income populations who are being served by the public mental health system. A survey by the NASMHPD Research Institute found that from FY09 to FY11, states were forced to cut behavioral health funding by $2.2 billion even though demands for behavioral health and crisis services increased by almost 60%. An expert panel gave their testimonies on how the budget cuts have impacted their organizations and access to mental health services. Opening Remarks (PDF, 34 KB) , Power Point presentation (PDF, 587 KB)

Past Commissioner of Alabama, Zelia Baugh, testified before the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Subcommittee on the Olmstead Enforcement Update: Using the ADA to Promote Community Integration held June 21, 2012.

Frank Melville Supportive Housing Investment Act of 2010 (S. 1481) was introduced July 21, 2009 and signed by President Barack Obama on January 4, 2011. The bill amends the Cranston-Gonzalez National Affordable Housing Act by improving supportive housing options for persons with disabilities and mental illness. HUD issued proposed regulations to implement the Act on October 7, 2014.


Senate Help Committee Holds Major Hearing on Mental Health Issues: Parity Issues, Integration, Importance of Peer Specialists Spotlighted during the Session on January 23, 2013.

The Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA) of 2008 (P.L. 110-343) was signed into law on October 3, 2008 by President George W. Bush. The legislation requires health insurance plans to cover both mental and physical health with restrictions no greater than those imposed for other medical and surgical benefits. Under the law, individuals seeking treatment for mental health and substance use disorders must receive the coverage comparable to other medical and surgical procedures covered under the plan. MHPAEA does not require health plans to cover mental health and substance use disorder benefits.

Under the 21st Century Cures Act (H.R. 34), several provisions focus on increasing suicide prevention resources including: reauthorizing the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act to prevent youth suicide; codifying the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline into law; establishing new grant funding to implement suicide prevention and intervention programs for adults 25 years and older; prioritizing American Indians and Alaska Native youth within suicide prevention programs; and strengthening community crisis response systems. 


Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2010 (S. 1963) was introduced on October 28, 2009 and signed into law ( P.L.111-163 ) on May 5, 2010. Provisions include: support for caregivers of veterans, such as training, counseling, supportive services and living stipends; expansion of services for women veterans; improvement of services to rural veterans by recruiting and retaining high quality healthcare providers, providing travel reimbursement to veterans receiving treatment at VA facilities, and expanding the VA's telehealth program; improvement of mental health care by providing readjustment counseling and a study on veteran suicides; and improving and increasing services for homeless veterans.

Sponsor : Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-HI)

Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014 (H.R. 3230; P. Law 113-146) was signed into law August 7, 2014. The law allows veterans to seek medical care from private healthcare providers through the use of a “Veterans Choice Card”. Veterans who were eligible for services as of August 1, 2014 or engaged in active service in a war zone on that date are eligible to receive outside care if they have been on a waiting list for 30 days or more; live more than 40 miles from a VA facility; would have to travel more than 20 miles by air, boat, or ferry to reach a facility; or reside in a state without a VA facility that provides hospital care, emergency services, or surgical services. Providers must be Medicare or DOD-participating and are reimbursed at Medicare rates, except in “highly rural” areas when they may be paid more.

Sponsor: Rep. Harold Rogers (R-KY)