Authors Posts by Sarah Eyster

Sarah Eyster

Ms. Eyster represents the association at state-level meetings and serves as staff liaison to the Mental Health Committee. She is responsible for member communication of, and the analysis of, Department of Human Services and other key policy decisions.

The Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (OMHSAS) is pleased to announce the following funding opportunity available to non-profit organizations serving Pennsylvania residents and their families with mental health, substance use, and/or behavioral health needs.


The Department of Human Services has posted the following Solicitation RFA 16-21 for support to individuals with lived experience and their families by funding organizations that provide prevention, intervention, and treatment services throughout Pennsylvania and locally in their communities. To achieve this goal, DHS is providing multiple awards of up to $500,000 for the 2021–22 state fiscal year on eMarketplace. Please visit the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s eMarketplace for more details.


If you have questions regarding this RFA, you must submit the questions by email (with the subject line “RFA 16-21 Question”) to the Resource Account no later than the date stated in the Calendar of Events. DHS will post all questions and written answers on the Department of General Services (DGS) website as an addendum, which shall become part of the RFA.


DHS looks forward to reviewing your proposals and partnering with organizations to strengthen the behavioral health system and improve the well-being of Pennsylvanians.

Mar 12, 2021
News Release

View online version

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Congressman Donald Norcross (NJ-01), Vice-Chair of the Bipartisan Opioid Task Force, along with the Bipartisan Opioid Task Force Co-Chairs, Representatives Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01) and Ann Kuster (NH-02), and Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-02) introduced the Parity Enforcement Act, H.R. 1364, which expands the U.S. Department of Labor’s authority to hold health insurers and plan sponsors accountable for offering health plans that violate the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008.

“As America continues to battle a public health crisis and economic crisis, the opioid epidemic has been fueled by the pandemic and continues to claim more lives each year than all of the Vietnam War and, unfortunately, suicide is also on the rise in nearly every state in our nation,” said Congressman Norcross. “While mental health parity is rightfully the law of the land, our enforcement mechanisms are severely lacking. Insurance companies can get away with not following parity laws, even though lives are on the line. We can and must do more.”

“America is working to overcome two epidemics right now—the COVID-19 pandemic, and the nationwide opioid epidemic that has unfortunately grown worse over the past year,” said Congressman Courtney. “It’s more important than ever right now to make sure all Americans have access to effective mental health and addiction treatment—it’s one of the best ways we can stem the increase in addiction and overdose, and our bipartisan legislation will provide new authority to ensure employer sponsored insurance plans are following parity rules. I’m proud to join Congressman Norcross in introducing the bipartisan Parity Enforcement Act.”

“As our nation grapples with dual crises – the opioid epidemic and COVID-19 – those seeking treatment for substance abuse disorder and addiction deserve to have faith that they are receiving the best treatment without being taken advantage of,” said Congresswoman Kuster. “We cannot allow insurance companies to continue to get away with violating parity laws. We can and we must do more to save lives, and this legislation is a crucial step in the right direction.”

“The mental health and opioid epidemic sweeping across our nation has only been compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, more than ever, we must ensure that all Americans have the access they need to seek out effective mental health and addiction treatment,” said Congressman Fitzpatrick. “It is unacceptable when some bad actor insurance companies are able to get away with not following parity laws, whether it be through denying treatment or making access to treatment difficult. Our bipartisan Parity Enforcement Act will empower the US Department of Labor to discourage these unlawful actions and ensure that employer-sponsored insurance plans are compliant with parity rules.”

Click here to view or download the full text of the bill.

Click here to view or download a fact sheet.

This legislation has a broad range of bipartisan and nonpartisan support. The Parity Enforcement Act is also supported by a variety of advocacy leaders, including the Kennedy Forum, the American Psychological Association, the American Society of Addiction Medicine and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

“Insurer discrimination against those with mental health and substance use disorders will continue until the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has the power to enforce the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008,” said former U.S. Representative and founder of The Kennedy Forum and DontDenyMe.org, Patrick J. Kennedy. “Without the ability to levy fines against insurers who violate the law, the DOL is essentially operating with one arm tied behind its back. I applaud Congressman Norcross for introducing this critical legislation, which makes it clear that to achieve parity we must hold insurers accountable.”

“One in five Americans experiences a mental health disorder each year, yet an overwhelming majority of Americans remain unaware that health insurers are required to provide coverage for mental health, behavioral health and substance-use disorders that is comparable to coverage for physical health,” said American Psychological Association CEO Arthur C. Evans Jr., PhD. “It is critically important that insurers and plans fully comply with the federal mental health and addiction parity law so that more people who need treatment can access it.”

“Correcting discriminatory insurer practices is critical to removing the stigma surrounding addiction and increasing access to evidence-based treatment for substance use disorder. The American Society of Addiction Medicine fully supports the Parity Enforcement Act of 2021, which would provide much-needed enforcement of existing federal parity law and help more Americans access comprehensive addiction treatment services,” said Paul H. Earley, MD, DFASAM, president of the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM).

“Mental health parity is the law of the land, yet during these challenging times we are still seeing inconsistent application of the law,” said American Foundation for Suicide Prevention CEO Robert Gebbia. “The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention applauds Congressman Norcross and endorses the Parity Enforcement Act as crucial legislation to put an end to discriminatory mental health coverage.”


Contact: Carrie Healey, Communications Director

Image by Wilfried Pohnke from Pixabay

From CMS Office of Minority Health

The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately impacted minority and vulnerable populations. The COVID-19 vaccine can reduce the spread of the virus and help end the public health emergency. Community partners working with racial and ethnic minorities, people with disabilities, people with limited English proficiency, sexual and gender minorities, and rural populations are critical in helping consumers understand how and when they can receive the vaccine, vaccine safety and confidence, and the important ongoing precautions to slow the spread of COVID-19.

To assist our partners, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Office of Minority Health (CMS OMH) has developed a COVID-19 Vaccine Resources website of the many Federal resources and organized them for health care professionals, partners, consumers, and for assistance in additional languages.

We encourage you to visit the website regularly, as we will continue to update the page with new resources. You can also share this page within your networks to prepare others to get the vaccine as soon as it’s available to them.

For additional COVID-19 information, visit our general COVID-19 website for Federal resources focusing on vulnerable populations and From Coverage to Care COVID-19 webpage.

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf signed another renewal of the state’s disaster declaration tied to the coronavirus pandemic, even as state lawmakers hope to curtail some of his broad powers in emergencies. On Friday, Wolf signed a 90-day extension of the disaster emergency, his fourth renewal of the proclamation. He signed the first order on March 6, the day the first COVID-19 cases were reported in Pennsylvania. View full article from PennLive.