HHS secretary’s N.H. visit lets Democrats focus on abortion, mental health

HHS secretary’s N.H. visit lets Democrats focus on abortion, mental health

MANCHESTER, N.H. — New Hampshire Democrats facing tough reelection battles in November got to tout issues such as mental health care and abortion rights that they think will resonate with supporters when Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra joined them for a series of events Friday.

Democratic Rep. Chris Pappas and Becerra participated in a roundtable about behavioral health at Amoskeag Health, a community health center here. President Joe Biden had highlighted the issue in his State of the Union speech this week, and lawmakers hope to pass legislation to expand funding and care this year. 

Pappas, Becerra and other federal and local officials heard about the center’s work to provide primary care, as well as specialty care, behavioral health and patient education, including helping new mothers who are postpartum and children affected by domestic violence. 

Pappas, a top target of the GOP who won his current term by 5 percentage points in 2020, said mental health is a bipartisan issue and pointed to efforts on Capitol Hill to take up a package this year that would extend programs due to expire and address ongoing crises such as the opioid epidemic. 

Pappas said a permanent expansion of telehealth coverage authorized through the COVID-19 public health emergency would be important to enact. Having Becerra visit Manchester was “critically important,” he said, and offered a chance to show how people working in mental health care in the state “always find ways to do more with less.”

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