Missouri U.S. Senator Blunt, and others announce expansion of mental health and addiction services

Published: Oct. 18, 2022 at 4:12 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 18, 2022 at 6:57 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (Edited News Release/KY3) - Missouri Senator U.S. Roy Blunt is one senator behind a push for more funding for mental health and addiction services.

Senator Roy Blunt and Michigan U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, along with U.S. Department of Health And Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra and senior HHS officials, announced that states across the country will now be able to apply to be a part of Blunt and Stabenow’s successful initiative to fully fund high-quality mental health and addiction services through Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics.

In 2014, Blunt and Stabenow worked together to get the Excellence in Mental Health Act signed into law, creating a demonstration program that established CCBHCs. These clinics are transforming community care by setting high-quality standards of care and then funding mental health and addiction services as health care through Medicaid. This is the same successful structure used for federally-qualified health centers

Ten states, including Missouri and Michigan, were selected to be a part of the mental health and addiction initiative created by the Excellence in Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Act.

In order to receive enhanced Medicaid funding, the clinics are required to provide crisis services that are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and serve anyone who requests care for mental health or substance use, regardless of their ability to pay. Other high-quality services are required as well.

With the passage of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, all states and the District of Columbia are eligible to submit applications for planning grants to develop CCBHCs in their states. In early 2023, 15 states will be awarded up to $1 million for one-year planning grants and from those, 10 will be selected to be in the actual CCBHC program, starting in 2024. While 10 states will join the initiative in 2024, the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act allows every state to eventually join.

“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,” said Senator Blunt. “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. Today’s announcement builds on the success we have seen in states that are currently part of the Excellence program, including Missouri and Michigan. I’m grateful for Senator Stabenow’s nearly decade-long partnership in this effort, and the support of the Biden administration. 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.”

“Our mental health care and addiction initiative is a proven success story and is transforming mental health and addiction treatment across our country. 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. Senator Blunt was a great partner with me in passing the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, and together with the Biden-Harris Administration, help through our highly successful clinics will begin to reach people in every corner of our country,” said Senator Stabenow.

“The significant expansion and enhancement of CCBHCs across the U.S. underscores the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to improving the behavioral health of all Americans, especially in vulnerable communities,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra. “Behavioral health is health. Period. There should be no distinction.”

“Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics are transforming behavioral health systems one community at a time,” said Miriam Delphin-Rittmon, Ph.D., HHS Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use and the leader of SAMHSA. “CCBHCs expand the quality and speed of behavioral health help to those in need.”

“I applaud SAMHSA’s steps to expand access to critical behavioral health services through this funding announcement,” said CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure. “Thanks to the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, we are proud to partner with SAMHSA to expand access to critical behavioral health care.”

Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics are required to provide a comprehensive set of services including 24/7/365 crisis services; outpatient mental health and substance abuse treatment services; immediate screenings, risk assessments, and diagnoses; and care coordination including partnerships with emergency rooms, law enforcement, and veterans’ groups.

A report authored by the National Council for Mental Wellbeing shows that these community clinics are increasing access to high-quality mental health and addiction treatment that is making a difference in the lives of thousands of people in communities across the country.

The Department of Health and Human Services found that people who receive care at these clinics had:

· 72% reduction in hospitalization

· 69% reduction in visits to the emergency room

· 40.7% decrease in homelessness

· 60.3% less time in jails

Also, 84% of these clinics either already provide direct services on site at elementary, middle, and high schools or plan to in the future.

Burrell Behavioral Health is Springfield’s only CCBHC and the news was welcomed even by other mental healthcare providers in the area who don’t qualify for the funding.

“We welcome any additional support to the community,” said Dr. Kyle John, the Clinical Vice-President of Behavioral Health for Mercy. “But I will tell you the downside to that money going to a CCBHC is like saying you’re only going to provide gas to the Kum-and-Go and all the other gas stations are going to be shut down. We need to bring every major player to the table. Burrell, Jordan Valley, Cox, Mercy and even the private groups need to all come to the table and help people who aren’t getting their needs met. Burrell can’t do it all and neither can we. But if we could get our heads wrapped around this idea that we should come together in a more collaborative fashion we would make some real progress. For example there’s a network in St. Louis that represents all the care-givers in that region and they’ve solved some really big issues that none of them could have solved alone.”

Mental health is being brought up as part of nearly every post-pandemic problem no matter what the topic...students struggling in school, the loss of workforce, homelessness, law enforcement struggles and rising substance abuse.

John was asked what he considered to be the biggest area in the Ozarks that needed addressing.

“I think it’s all of them,” John answered. “But certainly Springfield and Greene County is not immune from the substance-use disorder crisis or the fentanyl and opioid crisis. That’s an area that’s screaming for improvement. And there’s definitely been a shortage of child psychiatrists for a long time and that’s something you don’t fix quickly.”

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