Washington, D.C. (September 19, 2022) — The Kennedy Forum announced today the launch of its Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Commitment to Action, “Ensuring Coverage of Youth Mental Health Treatment.” CGI convenes global and emerging leaders to create and implement solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges.
The Forum’s Commitment focuses on breaking down insurance barriers that inhibit youth access to evidence-based mental health treatment services and critical prevention measures. Amid warnings from the U.S. Surgeon General and major medical associations—and with youth mental health challenges increasing significantly during the pandemic—the need for systematic change is stronger than ever. And given that the onset of about half of mental health disorders occur by age 18 and more than 60% by the age of 25, a special emphasis on youth-based strategies and solutions is both timely and strategic.
In pushing to advance parity (i.e., equal coverage of mental health and addiction treatment services), The Kennedy Forum will work with Mental Health America, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), and Inseparable to increase enforcement, educate policymakers on needed changes, and build grassroots support for prioritizing youth mental health.
The goal is to directly address the fact that many critical services are rarely covered by insurers: mental health therapies in schools, consensus treatment modality for early psychosis, emergency/crisis response services, routine prevention and early identification services, and key intermediate levels of treatment. Additionally, the Commitment will address insurers’ low reimbursement for mental health clinicians, including those serving youth, which results in inadequate networks. These shortages lead to mental health office visits for children being 10.1 times more likely to be out-of-network than physical health office visits. Insufficient insurance coverage and higher out-of-network cost sharing contribute to huge unmet needs. The action plan includes:
• Creating model requirements for commercial insurance coverage of mental health and addiction care, including coverage of school-based mental health services
• Starting discussions on creating a billing code for Coordinated Specialty Care (CSC) services – a key step to facilitating coverage
• Integrating coverage of mobile crisis response services into model state requirements relating to 988
• Identifying additional states to target with advocacy efforts
• Convening an industry council focused on school-based mental health and developing specific solutions from the industry perspective
• Convening organizations to begin work on preventative standards for pediatric mental health care
“As a society we’ve made great strides in reducing stigma,” said Amy L. Kennedy, former educator, and leader of The Kennedy Forum’s youth mental health efforts. “But we still haven’t built the infrastructure we need to successfully treat—and prevent—mental health challenges, especially in youth. With this Commitment to Action, The Kennedy Forum is doubling down on our efforts to drive change. We are thankful to the Clinton Global Initiative for recognizing this great societal need and helping to elevate our work.”
“Our youth are in a mental health crisis. They were in crisis before the pandemic, and the data are clear that their needs have significantly increased over the past two and a half years,” said MHA President and CEO Schroeder Stribling. “We must meet the needs of the next generation with all the urgency, resources, and compassion we can muster. The provision of universal prevention services alongside accessible, effective, and culturally competent treatment and recovery supports is imperative. The Commitment to Action outlines a clear and practicable path toward parity for mental health services in insurance coverage. Mental health care is health care, and the mental well-being of our youth is a pressing matter for the public health of our nation.”
“The pandemic has taken a toll on our young people’s mental health, and all of us, including the nation’s insurers, have an obligation to ensure our youth are getting access to needed mental health care,” said NAMI CEO Daniel H. Gillison Jr. “We are proud to participate in this Commitment to Action that will focus on concrete solutions to the youth mental health crisis.”
“If we are going to reverse the youth mental health crisis in America, we need to meet our youth and their families where they are – in their communities, their schools, through the health care system, and with effective crisis response programs. Inseparable is proud to support Patrick Kennedy and The Kennedy Forum’s commitment to action, and we are working to remove the barriers to care that so many of our youth face every day.” – Bill Smith, Founder, Inseparable
The Kennedy Forum stands ready to support the 2022 CGI Commitment with tools such as Don’t Deny Me, a campaign that educates consumers and providers about patient rights under the Federal Parity Law; ParityRegistry.org, which allows people to register complaints against their health plans and learn to file appeals; ParityTrack.org, where policymakers and advocates can track legislative, regulatory, and legal parity activities in all 50 states and at the federal level to monitor implementation and best practices; and the Parity State Workgroup, a monthly convening of 200 members from national and state-based organizations.
About The Kennedy Forum
Through The Kennedy Forum, Patrick and Amy Kennedy lead a national dialogue to achieve systemic reform in the U.S. healthcare system by advancing evidence-based practices, policies, and programming for the prevention and treatment of brain illnesses — specifically mental health and addiction. Founded in 2013, we have proven our unique ability to unite mental health advocates, business leaders, health plans, and government agencies. In the last decade we have already improved access to care for people managing brain illnesses by filling a solutions void at both the grassroots and systems level. To learn more about The Kennedy Forum, please visit www.thekennedyforum.org.
About the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI)
The Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) convenes global and emerging leaders to create and implement solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges. CGI works with partners to drive action through its unique model. Rather than directly implementing projects, CGI facilitates action by helping members connect, collaborate, and develop Commitments to Action — new, specific, and measurable plans that address global challenges. Through CGI, the community has made more than 3,700 Commitments to Action that have made a difference in the lives of more than 435 million people in more than 180 countries. Learn more here.