| Jun 09, 2023
On June 3, 2023, President Biden signed H.R. 3476, the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023. Most people know this act as the debt ceiling bill. The American Counseling Association previously reported the impact that this compromise bill between Democrats and Republicans would mean for the counseling profession.
We now know that the passage of this bill will reduce funding for mental health care below the previous amounts approved in 2021 and 2022. There are safety-net programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) that have the potential to cause an impact on mental health care clients by a reduction of aid being provided.
Through the agreement made by Congress and the White House, funds that have been approved by the American Rescue Plan that have yet to be appropriated will be returned to the United States Treasury.
These programs include decreasing appropriations of an estimated $335 Million Dollars that support:
- Access to pediatric mental health care.
- Grant funding to improve mental health among health care workers.
- Training healthcare professionals about substance use disorders.
- Funding to colleges and universities that would expand mental health workers on campus.
- Mobile Crisis Services programs.
Furthermore, the passage of this bill will decrease future funding to federal agencies over the next two fiscal years (2024-2025). The agencies affected are:
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services (SAMHSA)
- National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
- National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA)
Overall, this bill allows the country to avoid defaulting on loans, and to continue to pay its bills. However, the compromise has reduced key spending that supports the Mental Health profession, schools, and communities in need.
Though we cannot say for sure what the impact will be in the future, we do know that a reduction in programming will negatively impact many of the clients served by counselors, and potentially decrease or remove grant funds that some counselors rely on to conduct research and support their clients.
Over the next several years it is vital for the counseling community to stay involved and educate your legislators about the local, state, and federal level of the positive impacts made when there is an investment in mental health care, and our schools.
The American Counseling Association will continue to monitor the impact that the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023 will make -- and we will do everything in our power to provide our decision makers with the information they need to effectively support the profession.