Thursday, U.S. Senator Todd Young (R-Ind.) and Tim Kaine (D-Va.) announced the reintroduction of the Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act, comprehensive, bipartisan legislation to reduce and prevent suicide, burnout, and mental and behavioral health conditions among health care professionals.
Health care professionals have long experienced high levels of stress and burnout, and throughout the past year, the COVID-19 pandemic has only further exacerbated the problem. While helping their patients fight for their lives, many health care professionals have been coping with their own trauma of losing patients and colleagues and fear for their own health and safety. The bill will help promote mental and behavioral health among those working on the frontlines of the pandemic. It would also support training for health professionals to prevent suicide and burnout and increases awareness about suicide and mental health concerns among health care professionals.
“Over the past year, our frontline workers bore the brunt of the coronavirus pandemic – putting their lives on the line every day so that our communities can stay safe and secure. As we continue to navigate this global health crisis, it is critical that we look out for Hoosier health care professionals and other frontline workers,” said Senator Young. “The Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act will help these workers get the support they need to prevent suicide and promote mental and behavioral health.”
Senators Young and Kaine were joined in reintroducing the legislation by Senators Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-La.) and Jack Reed (D-R.I.), as well as U.S. Representatives Susan Wild (D-Pa.-07), David McKinley (R-W.Va.-01), Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.-08), and Judy Chu (D-Calif.-27). The Senators are pushing for inclusion of the legislation in the latest COVID-19 relief package making its way through Congress. While the Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act was formally introduced today on the Senate side, the legislation will formally be introduced on the House side next week.
“In my conversations with frontline health care workers over the past year, I’ve seen that this crisis is going to have a significant impact on the lives of health care professionals for a very long time,” said Senator Kaine. “As more people get vaccinated and we start to see the light at the end of the tunnel, the healers who’ve been caring for everyone else will continue to feel the effects of this trauma, yet face stigma in accessing treatment. It’s so important for Congress to pass this bipartisan legislation so we can meaningfully change how our health care industry approaches mental health and set up a more reliable infrastructure and culture for health care professionals to count on in the years to come.”
“Our health care heroes have long experienced high levels of stress and burnout, and COVID-19 has only exacerbated the problem. Not until the death of my beloved sister, did we learn of the pervasiveness of mental health issues among medical professionals,” said Jennifer Breen Feist, co-founder of the Dr. Lorna Breen Heroes’ Foundation. “The Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act legislation is a critical step in building the policy framework to address mental health concerns facing our healthcare providers during this challenging time. We are encouraged by the bipartisan support this legislation has garnered and hopeful that this important issue is at last generating the attention it deserves.”
Specifically, the Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act:
- Establishes grants for training health profession students, residents, or health care professionals in evidence-informed strategies to reduce and prevent suicide, burnout, mental health conditions, and substance use disorders. The grants would also help improve health care professionals’ well-being and job satisfaction.
- Seeks to identify and disseminate evidence-informed best practices for reducing and preventing suicide and burnout among health care professionals, training health care professionals in appropriate strategies, and promoting their mental and behavioral health and job satisfaction.
- Establishes a national evidence-based education and awareness campaign targeting health care professionals to encourage them to seek support and treatment for mental and behavioral health concerns.
- Establishes grants for employee education, peer-support programming, and mental and behavioral health treatment; health care providers in current or former COVID-19 hotspots will be prioritized.
- Establishes a comprehensive study on health care professional mental and behavioral health and burnout, including the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on such professionals’ health.
The legislation is also cosponsored by Senators Angus King (I-Vt.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Mark R. Warner (D-Va.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.), and Jon Tester (D-Mont.), as well as U.S. Representatives Haley Stevens (D-Mich.-11), Fred Upton (R-Mich.-06), Morgan Griffith (R-Va.-09) and John Katko (R-N.Y.-24).
The Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act is supported by the American Academy of Emergency Medicine (AAEM), American Academy Of Emergency Medicine Resident and Student Association (AAEM/RSA), American Academy of Family Physicians, American Academy of PAs, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Association of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic (AACOM), American Association of Nurse Anesthetists, American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP), American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), American Counseling Association, American Dance Therapy Association, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, American Hospital Association (AHA), American Medical Association, American Medical Student Association, American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), American Osteopathic Association, American Psychiatric Association, American Society of Anesthesiologists, Associated Medical Schools of New York (AMSNY), Association for Ambulatory Behavioral Healthcare, Association for Behavioral Health and Wellness, Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), Ballad Health, Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD), Columbia University Irving Medical Center, EMDR International Association, Envision Healthcare, Federation of State Medical Boards, Federation of State Physician Health Programs (FSPHP), Mental Health America, National Association of Social Workers, National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors, National Board Certified Counselors, National Center of Excellence for Eating Disorders, National Disability Rights Network (NDRN), Postpartum Support International, RI International, SMART Recovery, The International OCD Foundation, The Jed Foundation, UVA Health, and the Well Being Trust.
You can view the full text of the bill here.