A focus on youth behavioral health underpins the mental health bill that House lawmakers plan to vote on Thursday, top Democrats said.

Speaker Ronald Mariano has said representatives would pass their own mental health bill to “complement” one the Senate approved last November, and the House bill received an initial approval vote Wednesday after it emerged from the House Ways and Means Committee.

House lawmakers are set to take up their bill (H 4879) on Thursday, and its passage would give the two branches a little more than six weeks to reconcile a pair of wide-ranging bills that have some overlap before formal legislative sessions end for the year on July 31.

Health Care for All Executive Director Amy Rosenthal said the House bill would “improve access to mental health care for individuals and families throughout the Commonwealth.”

“Many families still face barriers to accessing the care they need,” she said. “This is especially true for behavioral health, and the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated an already growing behavioral health crisis, especially among youth. The House mental health bill contains provisions to help address these challenges.”

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