Sen. Debbie Stabenow’s health care legacy
Health Care

Sen. Debbie Stabenow’s health care legacy

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.

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.