Recently, Centerstone staff members joined the National Council for Behavioral Health in Washington, D.C. to advocate for The Excellence in Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Expansion Act (S. 824/ H.R. 1767).
The Excellence Act would bring Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHCs) to 11 new states and add two more years for the eight states already participating in the CCBHC demonstration.
CCBHCs were enacted in 2014 to fill the gaps in unmet need for addiction and mental health care and expand access to comprehensive, community-based treatment. In 2017, eight states launched demonstration grants under the Medicaid program, which also established a new payment structure to allow these clinics to build out their care continuum in a financially sustainable manner. Earlier this year, 13 additional states received grant funding to launch CCBCHs (Centerstone received these grants in KY, IN and IL).
While these grant-funded CCBHC clinics allow Centerstone to increase our array of services, the grant funded CCBHCs do not have the same payment structure as the CCBHCs authorized under Medicaid, which was designed to further the fiscal sustainability of those clinics. As such, the Excellence Act would increase the number of states that could expand their treatment continuum andreceive a prospective payment rate under the Medicaid program. This is especially critical because, often times, today’s Medicaid rates do not fully cover the cost of delivering care.
Early results from the two-year program demonstrate how CCBHCs are advancing access to opioid and other addiction care and have been vital in increasing both community capacity for opioid treatment and access to services for those in need. As one of the nation’s largest community-based health providers, Centerstone strongly supports this bill as a means to increase access to life saving mental health and addiction treatment services while advancing the behavioral health workforce. Additionally, and as noted above, this model establishes financing structures more aligned with the true cost of delivering care.
That’s why on May 16, with nearly 100 other advocates from across the nation, Centerstone leaders spent the day advocating for additional resources (via the Excellence Act) to cope with the nation’s mental health and addiction crisis. The day kicked off with an event at the Washington Post that featured actress Glenn Close and Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Roy Blunt (R-MO) to discuss the importance of CCBHCs. Senator Stabenow explained that Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics were created to address the inequity between behavioral health and physical health.
“The bottom line is we don’t treat mental health and addiction services the same as we treat physical health services,” Senator Stabenow said. The Senator went on to emphasize that CCBHCs bring full funding into behavioral health care and that with these new resources, CCBHCs are “transforming communities.”
Senator Blunt added that the aim of Excellence in Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Expansion Act is to “Treat mental health like you would any other health issue. It’s as simple as that.”
Following the Washington Post event, Centerstone advocates spent the rest of the day on Capitol Hill speaking directly with lawmakers to advocate for CCBHCs including a direct meeting with US Senate Leader McConnell (R-KY) as well as with senior staff from the offices of Representative John Yarmuth (D-KY) and Representative Brett Guthrie (R-KY).
What you can do to help
We ask that you reach out to your respective Senators and Congressional Representatives to share your support for the Excellence in Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Expansion Act (S. 824/ H.R. 1767).
You can contact your House Representative or Senators by phone by calling the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121. Simply call the Switchboard, give the operator your zip code, and he/she will connect you with your elected officials’ office. We’ve provided a sample statement below that might be helpful as you think about what to say once you have someone on the phone!
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 Representative/Senator. As an employee of a front-lines provider of behavioral health services, I know that mental healthcare and addiction treatment services can transform lives. S. 824/ H.R. 1767 can plan a critical role in accelerating access addiction treatment and lifesaving mental health services. Please consider supporting the Excellence in Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Expansion Act. Thank you.