Biden Administration Makes Millions Available to Expand Mental Health Care
WASHINGTON — The Biden administration said Tuesday it will award millions of dollars in grants to expand all-hours mental health and substance abuse care in more communities around the country.
The new funding opportunity was authorized by the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act to help develop and transform Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics to address the country’s mental health crisis.
CCBHCs provide crisis services that are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and serve anyone who requests care for mental health or substance use, regardless of their ability to pay.
In addition to the nearly $300 million awarded in September for new and existing CCBHCs, $15 million in additional funding is now being made available.
“With these additional funds, we’re delivering on President Biden’s commitment to strengthen mental and behavioral health for all Americans, including people living in our nation’s most vulnerable communities,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra in a written statement.
“Behavioral health is health. Period. There should be no distinction. This investment will bring us closer to that reality,” Becerra said.
There are currently more than 400 of these clinics located in 46 states. Often run at the local level or by nonprofits, these facilities have often struggled with sporadic funding from the federal government, making it difficult to retain staff and pay for services.
Now the federal government is asking states to scale up their efforts around the clinics, offering $1 million grants starting next year for up to 15 states to map out an expansion of the centers. Ten of those states will then be selected in 2024 for more money for their programs through Medicaid by securing federal matching funds at an enhanced rate. The goal is for 10 states to join the program every other year until all 50 are folded in.
The effort to solidify federal support for mental health care took flight in 2014, when Sens. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and Roy Blunt, R-Mo., pushed through the Excellence in Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Act.
In addition to creating the CCBHCs, the act transformed the way mental health and addiction services are funded, closing the gap in funding between physical and behavioral health care.
“Our mental health care and addiction initiative is a proven success story and is transforming mental health and addiction treatment across our country,” Stabenow said in a written statement.
“Now, every state will be able to join and make sure health care above the neck is funded the same way as health care below the neck,” she said.
“Our Excellence in Mental Health demonstration program has shown that treating mental health like all other health is not only the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do,” Blunt said. “For too long, emergency rooms and law enforcement have served as the de facto mental health care delivery system in our country.
“Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics are changing that, helping people get the comprehensive behavioral health care they need, when they need it. Giving every state the opportunity to be a part of the Excellence program is a huge milestone that will help millions of Americans live longer, healthier, happier lives,” he said.
Ten states — Michigan, Missouri, Kentucky, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon and Pennsylvania — were selected from among 24 states that received one-year planning grants from HHS. States must receive a planning grant in order to apply to be in the demonstration program.
The remaining 40 U.S. states and the District of Columbia are eligible to submit applications for planning grants to develop CCBHCs in their states.
The CCBHC planning phase assists states in certifying clinics as CCBHCs, establishing prospective payment systems for Medicaid reimbursable services, and preparing an application to participate in a four-year demonstration program.
Dan can be reached at [email protected] and @DanMcCue
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