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Call Your Senator: An Opportunity to Advocate for Mental Health

In March, a bipartisan bill was introduced to both chambers of Congress that would extend and expand the Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC) model. The bill, known as the Excellence in Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Expansion Act (S. 824/ H.R. 1767), would bring CCBHCs to eleven new states and would add two more years for the eight states already participating in the CCBHC demonstration.

More about the CCBHC Model
Under this demonstration program, CCBHCs provide a comprehensive range of evidence-based addiction and mental health services to vulnerable populations, helping to deliver care that meets people where they are. In return, CCHBHCs receive a Medicaid reimbursement based on their anticipated costs. Over the course of the two-year, eight-state demonstration program, the CCBHC model has proved to be a significant opportunity for improvement in the field of behavioral health. A survey of the 8 initial CCBHC states found that the initiative:

  • Created more jobs for behavioral healthcare providers: The initiative was responsible for large workforce expansions across all states, with a total of 1,160 new behavioral health jobs created across 8 states.
  • Increased access to services for clients in need: 87% of those surveys reported that they had seen an increase in the number of patients served. For many, this increase represented up to 25% increase in capacity to serve patients in their community. Most clients had not been enrolled in care previously despite their demonstrated behavioral health need.
  • Shortened wait times for services: 57% reported that they were able to implement same-day access protocols so that every client could be seen on the same day that they were referred.
  • Expanded Opioid Treatment: In addition to a wide array of opioid treatment services, 81% of CCBHCs have been able to either implement or expand medication-assisted treatment programs. 64% have been able to expand recover supports by hiring peer recovery specialists, while 62% were able to train staff or community partners in naloxone administration.
  • Expanded Crisis Care: 75% of CCBHCs reported an increased capacity to provide crisis care to clients. This ensures that vulnerable clients can receive effective, evidence-based treatment when they need it most.
  • Created additional partnerships with criminal justice system: 44% of CCBHCs reported increased ability to create new care delivery or outreach partnerships with law enforcement agencies, jails, prisons, and courts. These partnerships help ease the burden on criminal justice system by treating mental health conditions earlier, which can help individuals re-enter the community successfully or even avoid police encounters altogether. CCBHCs also help by providing a source of appropriate crisis services and creating funding for effective diversion and reentry programs.

Under the original bill, programs in these initial 8 states are slated to end in Summer 2019, which would be a substantial barrier to continuing the CCBHC model in these communities. Unless Congress takes action, communities will lose a critical source of behavioral and addiction services and providers.

About the bill

The Excellence in Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Expansion Act (S. 824/ H.R. 1767) offers an opportunity to build on the initial success of the CCBHC program by expanding to eleven new states, along with allowing current states to continue their work for another two years. In doing so, Centerstone states have an opportunity to become part of the demonstration. Currently, three Centerstone states (Kentucky, Indiana, and Illinois) have CCBHC grant funding. However, the passage of this legislation would usher additional resources to build upon this foundation.

Share your support

We ask that you reach out to your respective Senators and Congressional Representatives to share your support for the Excellence Act. (Sample statement also provided below.)

To contact your Senators, use the following phone numbers:

FLORIDA

  • Senator Rick Scott (R-FL) D.C. contact: (202) 224-5274
  • Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) D.C. contact: (202) 224-3041

ILLINOIS

  • Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) D.C. contact: (202) 224-2152
  • Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) D.C. contact: (202) 224-2854

INDIANA

  • Senator Mike Braun (R-IN) D.C. contact: (202) 224-4814
  • Senator Todd Young (R-IN) D.C. contact: (202) 224-5623

KENTUCKY

  • Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) D.C. contact: (202) 224-2541
  • Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) D.C. contact: (202) 224-4343

TENNESSEE

  • Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) D.C. contact: (202) 224-4944
  • Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) D.C. contact: (202) 224-3344

To contact your Congressional Representative, click here or call the U.S. Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121 (a switchboard operator will connect you directly with your lawmaker’s office. You do not need to know his or her names; you can simply provide the switchboard with the county you live in).

Sample statement
Hello, my name is (name, city you live in, place you work). I am calling to share my support for the Excellence in Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Expansion Act (S. 824/ H.R. 1767) with my Congressman/Senator. I know that community-based mental healthcare and addiction services are vital to increasing access to lifesaving care, providing services targeted towards our most vulnerable groups, and supporting law enforcement officers in their work. (Include any examples you feel support this statement, without mentioning anyone’s name.) Please consider supporting the Excellence in Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Expansion Act. Thank you.

Sample social media post
The Excellence in Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Expansion Act has the potential to transform the way we deliver mental health and addiction treatment; so that more individuals have access to lifesaving care. Call (202) 224-3121 and ask to speak to your Senator. Once you have a staff person on the phone, let them know you support the Excellence in Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Expansion Act (S. 824/ H.R. 1767).