WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA) and Tim Kaine (D-VA) applauded the final congressional passage of their bipartisan Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act to prevent burnout, suicide, and mental and behavioral health issues in health care workers. Senators Todd Young (R-IN) and Jack Reed (D-RI) also cosponsored the bill, which now heads to the president’s desk to be signed into law.
“Doctors, nurses and health care workers shoulder the responsibility of saving lives and have worked overtime during the pandemic,” said Dr. Cassidy. “Passing this bill through the Senate is one step closer to providing an important lifeline for medical professionals so they too can get the care they need.”
“Our health care workers have long suffered significant burnout, and it’s been exacerbated by serving on the front lines combatting COVID-19,” said Senator Kaine. “We owe these healers not only a debt of gratitude, but more robust support. This legislation will take steps to provide them with greater resources to cope with the mental health challenges they face.”
“Our frontline workers have performed heroically during the coronavirus pandemic – putting their lives on the line every day for our communities. It is critical that we look out for Hoosier health care professionals and other frontline workers,” said Senator Young. “This legislation will help frontline workers get the support they need to prevent suicide and improve mental and behavioral health.”
The Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act will:
- Establish grants for training health care professionals or trainees in strategies to address mental health and substance use disorders.
- Require identification and dissemination of best practices for preventing suicide and improving mental health and resiliency among health care professionals.
- Establish a national education and awareness initiative to encourage health care professionals to seek support and care for mental health and substance use concerns.
- Establish grants to health care entities (e.g., hospitals, community health centers, and rural health clinics) for health care provider education, the establishment of programs to prevent suicide and improve mental health among health care professionals, peer-support programming, and mental health treatment. Health care providers in health professional shortage areas or rural areas will be prioritized.
- Require a review related to improving health care professional mental health and resiliency, including the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on such professionals’ health and the barriers professionals face when seeking and accessing mental health care.
The original version of the bill passed the Senate last August. The Senate passed the bill a second time after the U.S. House of Representatives passed an amended version last December.