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Energy And Commerce Committee Approves The Bipartisan Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act, Co-Led By Congressman Krishnamoorthi

November 18, 2021
Press Release
The health care worker mental wellness bill was named in honor of Dr. Lorna Breen, who tragically died by suicide while serving on frontlines of the pandemic

WASHINGTON – Yesterday, the House Energy and Commerce Committee approved the Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act, a healthcare worker mental wellness bill introduced by Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL-08) with Representatives Susan Wild (D-PA-07), Judy Chu (D-CA-27), and David McKinley (R-WV-01). The bill is led in the Senate by Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA), Todd Young (R-IN), Jack Reed (D-RI), and Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA).

Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, health care professionals have experienced exceptionally high levels of stress and burnout. As they have helped their patients fight to survive the pandemic, many health care professionals have struggled themselves with the trauma of losing colleagues and patients, as well as the daily risks to their own health and that of their families. The issue captured national attention in April 2020 when Dr. Lorna Breen, a physician from Charlottesville, Virginia, who was working on the frontlines of the pandemic in New York City, tragically died by suicide.

In honor of Dr. Lorna Breen, the Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act was created in order to provide support to healthcare heroes across the country. The comprehensive, bipartisan legislation would reduce and prevent suicide, burnout, and mental and behavioral health conditions among health care professionals. This legislation will help expand access to mental and behavioral health resources among those working on the frontlines of the pandemic while supporting training for health professionals to prevent suicide and burnout.

“I’m glad that the Committee has approved our legislation to help health care workers, including those on the front lines of COVID-19, access the resources they need to support their mental health and combat burnout during the pandemic and throughout their careers,” said Congressman Krishnamoorthi. “As the husband of a frontline physician, I know the burden the pandemic has put on health care workers who have risked their lives on a daily basis, and I look forward to this legislation receiving a vote on the House floor.”

“I am thrilled to see the Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act move one step closer to the President’s desk,” said Representative Wild. “This commonsense legislation will provide much-needed resources and support to the frontline health care providers who have served our country throughout the pandemic in the face of horrific loss, anguish, and burnout. Nobody should suffer alone, and I am looking forward to finally passing this bill into law and get help where it’s needed. I commend Rep. Krishnamoorthi for his leadership in fighting for this bill and for our frontline health care heroes.”

Specifically, the Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act:

  • Disseminates evidence-based best practices for preventing suicide and improving mental health and resiliency among health care professionals, and for training them in strategies to promote their mental health.
  • Establishes a public awareness campaign to encourage health care professionals to identify and seek support and care for their mental health or substance use concerns.
  • Establishes grants to health care entities, such as hospitals, community health centers, and rural health clinics, as well as medical professional associations, to establish or enhance evidence-based programs dedicated to improving mental health and resiliency for health care professionals.
  • Establishes grants to health professions schools, academic health centers, state or local governments, and other appropriate public or nonprofit entities, to support the training of health care students, residents, or health care professionals in evidence-based strategies to address mental health and substance use disorders and improve mental health and resiliency.
  • Requires a report to Congress in not more than 3 years on improving health care professional mental health and resiliency and the outcomes of the grant programs. The report will consider factors that contribute to poor mental health, barriers to seeking care, the impact of COVID-19, factors that promote resiliency, and the efficacy of training programs.

The full text of the bill is available here.

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.