Earlier today, the House passed a gun reform bill, which the Senate approved last night. The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act includes measures to reduce gun violence, significant investment in mental health and telehealth resources, and funding for school-based mental health services and safety. President Joe Biden is expected to sign the bill into law shortly.
The bill would enhance background checks by requiring an investigative period to review the juvenile and mental health records of gun purchasers younger than 21. It provides $750 million over five years to help states implement crisis intervention programs, or “red-flag laws,” which allow law enforcement authorities to temporarily confiscate guns from people deemed dangerous. The bill would also ensure that convicted domestic violence abusers and individuals subject to domestic violence restraining orders are included in a Federal law that bars them from purchasing firearms, among other gun safety provisions.
The bill also includes numerous provisions to bolster mental health and telemental health services. It proposes expanding the existing Medicaid Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic demonstration program to all states to increase access to community-based behavioral health services. In addition, the bill would require the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to provide guidance to states on how to increase access to telemental health services under Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program as well as updated guidance, technical assistance, and state planning grants to help states implement and expand school-based health programs under Medicaid. It also appropriates millions in funding for Health Resources and Services Administration and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration programs to support pediatric health care and enhance community mental health services, among other provisions.