Posted By Amanda Girard On July 13, 2021
The bipartisan Excellence in Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Act of 2021 was introduced to the Senate this July and will allow every state to establish fully funded Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHC) and join the CCBHC Medicaid demonstration nationwide. If the act is passed it will expand access to high-quality mental health and addiction services across the country. CCHBCs in the Medicaid demonstration are given larger Medicaid reimbursements for offering a comprehensive set of services to their communities. These services include 24-hour crisis care, outpatient mental health and substance abuse treatments.
This new legislation builds upon the CCBHC program established through the Excellence in Mental Health and Addiction Act of 2014. The 2014 Medicaid demonstration program was only available in some states, however. Studies have shown that CCBHCs have improved behavioral health access and reduced wait times. Additionally, startup grants provided through that legislation expanded the number of clinics across our country, providing access to over 1.5 million Americans. This working model has made lawmakers consider expanding the program.
Behavioral Health providers operating in states outside the current Medicaid demonstration program can still become CCBHCs. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) provides special grants to help them do so. However, Medicaid does not reimburse those providers for adopting the CCBHC model to provide comprehensive care services. Instead, it is left to SAMHSA to provide funding, which is unsustainable as it is capped and runs out after a certain amount of time.
If passed, the Excellence in Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Act of 2021 would allow every state access to Medicaid reimbursements and not be restricted by limited funding. It would also provide $500 million in SAMHSA CCBHC expansion grants and a technical assistance center being created at SAMHSA to assist current and prospective CCBHCs.
There has been a decades-long crisis of access to mental health care in the United States. The COVID-19 pandemic has created a rise in reported mental health conditions, overdose deaths and a smaller mental health workforce. Congress members are hoping that this bill to adopt the CCBHC Medicaid demonstration nationwide will provide the solution to boost access to mental health care for all Americans.