SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Political leaders are looking to extend mental health services across the country. Senators and representatives have recently introduced the Excellence in Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Act of 2021 in both chambers of the U.S. Congress. The bipartisan bills aim to create more Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHCs) like Burrell Behavioral Health across the country.
The legislation would build upon a law passed in 2014, which transformed the way mental health systems are funded. That law developed the CCBHC Medicaid demonstration, which is a pilot program through which participating CCBHCs receive higher Medicaid reimbursements for providing a comprehensive range of around-the-clock behavioral health services to the underinsured and uninsured. That allows clinics to pay more competitive wages, provide more expansive services and help more people.
Right now, ten states – including Missouri – are included in the program. If passed, the new bill would allow every state to join the CCBHC Medicaid demonstration and allow investments in the model for current and prospective community mental health centers.
Burrell Behavioral Health serves as the designated CCBHC in 17 counties in its Missouri catchment area. Those counties are designated by the Department of Health and Human Services as Mental Health and Primary Care Professional Shortage Areas, with 82 percent of them designated as Medically Underserved Areas.
CCBHCs provide rapid and timely access to comprehensive mental health and substance use treatment services. Since its initiation, data shows this innovative model allows clinics to serve more people in need, radically reduce wait times, offer expanded access to medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for opioid-use disorder and hire more staff. To learn more about CCBHCs, click here.
The CCBHC model also allows community mental health centers to collaborate with law enforcement, hospitals and schools.
“Too often, the criminal justice system is the de facto mental health facility for incarcerated individuals – a flawed approach to treating people living with mental health or substance use challenges in our communities. But thanks to the CCBHC program, we have been able to build a better system that diverts those with mental illness from correctional facilities and reduces recidivism among those struggling with a mental illness or substance use challenge,” said Springfield Police Chief Paul Williams in a statement.
“Through our partnership with Burrell Behavioral Health, a CCBHC here in Springfield, Missouri, we can better identify those who have mental health care needs and then coordinate a proper plan to meet them. Passing the Excellence Act will help spur new partnerships like ours across the country and make every community safer and healthier.”
Chuck Ingoglia, President and CEO of the National Council of Wellbeing, released a statement applauding the legislative effort.
“Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics offer a practical and scalable solution to meet our nation’s mental health and substance use crisis by expanding access to evidence-based substance use treatment, diverting people in crisis from hospitals, expensive emergency departments and jails,” Ignolia said. “Their resounding success both before and during the COVID-19 pandemic prove that no matter what, CCBHCs rise to meet the needs of their communities.”
Burrell Behavioral Health joins the National Council for Mental Wellbeing in supporting this recent effort and legislation.
“When someone reaches out to a community mental health center, they are often in desperate, urgent need of support. We have watched the CCBHC model revolutionize mental healthcare as it allows us to serve more people, faster than ever before, and save lives,” said Burrell President and CEO C.J. Davis. “This game-changing effort should be expanded to every community in America, so our neighbors can access and experience the care they deserve.”
U.S. Senators Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) sponsored the 2014 legislation that introduced the CCBHC program, which is known as the biggest step forward in expanding community mental health and addiction services in decades. The same senators also introduced this new legislation in hopes of building on that effort.
“Although we’ve nearly defeated this pandemic, our nation continues to face a significant mental and behavioral health crisis,” said Sen. Blunt in a statement. “Studies have shown that, over the last year, more Americans have struggled with anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, and substance use. We can help more people get the care they need by expanding Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics. These clinics serve nearly 1.5 million Americans and have a proven record of increasing access to care, reducing hospitalizations, and decreasing emergency room visits. I urge all of our colleagues to support this bipartisan bill that will help change the way mental and behavioral health are treated in our nation.”
Sen. Stabenow released her own statement.
“Mental illness and substance use disorders do not discriminate – they affect our parents, children, CEOs, students, teachers, veterans and other community leaders. For too long, our country has funded health care above the neck differently than health care below the neck. We are finally transforming the way we deliver high-quality services in our communities and the results are clear. It’s time to expand these highly successful clinics to people in every corner of our country,” said Sen. Stabenow.
If passed, the Excellence in Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Act of 2021 would also authorize $500 million in CCBHC expansion grants through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and establish a technical assistance center for current and prospective CCBHCs within SAMHSA. Burrell is a two-time recipient of the expansion grants, which have directly paid for CCBHC services for the most vulnerable clients in its catchment area.
Congresswoman Doris Matsui (D-CA) recently introduced similar legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives, along with Representatives Markwayne Mullin (R-OK), Angie Craig (D-MN), David B. McKinley, P.E. (R-WV), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) and Paul Tonko (D-NY). Congresswoman Matsui also sponsored the 2014 legislation.
“It is past time for behavioral health to be treated on a level playing field with the rest of our nation’s health care system,” Matsui said in a statement. “This bipartisan, bicameral legislation has been and will continue to be the right step forward in achieving true parity between physical and mental health care. By increasing access to high-quality mental health and addition care, this legislation will expand nationwide the opportunity for states to access the resources they need to better serve patients and their families in their communities. This legislation is vital for patients to continue to receive the necessary and comprehensive mental health and addiction support services they depend on and Congress must act now to extend this critical program.”
The Excellence in Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Act of 2021 will only pass and become law once the majority of members in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives agree to it. Please consider contacting your elected officials to ask for their support and co-sponsorship on these bills in the U.S. Congress. Find out how by clicking here.
About Burrell Behavioral Health:
Burrell Behavioral Health is one of the largest community behavioral health providers in the nation, working with more than 40,000 clients in 8 counties in Arkansas and 17 counties in Missouri. Burrell has more than 400 licensed providers offering a full continuum of care through our integrated network. Services include individual therapy and counseling, addiction recovery, psychiatric and medication management, educational and therapeutic groups, crisis intervention, medication-assisted treatment, adult stabilization, case management, residential treatment, autism, diagnostic testing and evaluations and developmental disability support. Learn more about Burrell’s programs and services at www.burrellcenter.com and www.burrellcenter.com/arkansas.