Congressman Brian Higgins announced the passage of H.R. 1667, the Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act. The bill, cosponsored by Higgins, works to promote mental health support for health care professionals by providing $45 million annually from 2022 through 2024 for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to establish and improve mental health education and awareness initiatives.
“Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, our frontline health care workers have worked long hours in difficult, straining conditions to provide incredible care and save lives. This work comes not only at the expense of their physical health, but also of their mental health,” Higgins said. “This legislation will ensure the frontline workers, who care for our communities, receive the care they deserve by providing funding for mental health initiatives.”
Named after New York City doctor Lorna Breen, who cared for COVID-19 patients and died by suicide while working on the front lines, the bill helps to raise awareness of the mental health concerns of frontline workers and encourages them to seek support by identifying and responding to suicide risk factors. The bill also seeks to address stigmas associated with seeking care and will help provide grants to hospitals, health-professional schools, and local governments for programs that work to improve the mental health of frontline workers.
In May, on National Nurses Day, Higgins introduced new legislation aimed at easing the burdens of health care professionals through a $5,000 refundable tax credit that would be provided to nurses and frontline health care workers. The tax credit would be available to those working in hospitals, doctor’s offices, long-term care facilities, and patient's homes.
Higgins’ team said, “If you or somebody you know is experiencing mental health concerns or suicidal thoughts, reach out to suicidepreventionlifeline.org or 1-800-273-8255.”