Axios Pro: Health Care PolicyThought Bubble

January 05, 2023

Axios Pro Exclusive Content

Good morning, and welcome to our quick look at Sen. Debbie Stabenow's health care record now that she's not running for re-election next year.

1 big thing: Stabenow's health care legacy

Senator Debbie Stabenow speaks during a committee hearing

Stabenow at a Senate Budget Committee hearing in June 2021. Photo: Greg Nash-Pool/Getty Images

Sen. Debbie Stabenow’s retirement will end the career of a senator who’s known for taking up unflashy but critical health care issues like mental health policy and funding reauthorizations, Maya reports.

Why it matters: Her departure means the Senate will lose one of its most effective mental health champions.

The big picture: Stabenow, who chairs the Senate Finance health subcommittee, is an ardent mental health advocate and led many of the mental health provisions passed last month in the omnibus package.

  • They included legislation to increase the mental health care workforce and to get Medicare coverage for mental health counselors and therapists.
  • She also spearheaded the 2014 Excellence in Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Act, which created a new Medicaid reimbursement model for Community Behavioral Health Clinics.
  • “No person struggling with mental health issues or addiction should ever go without the treatment they need because grant funding runs out. Health care is health care — whether it is above the neck or below the neck,” Stabenow said last March.

Throughout her tenure, the four-term Michigan Democrat has also secured 10 years of funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, pushed Medicare and TRICARE to better cover Alzheimer’s care, and co-authored legislation to extend community health centers’ funding.

  • Ten new community centers have opened in Detroit since Stabenow took office, according to the Detroit Free Press.

What’s next: Stabenow still has another two years in office, so we expect to hear more from her on health care before she leaves D.C.

  • We’ll also be on the lookout for who might emerge as Senate Democrats’ next mental health and health care funding leaders.

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