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Mullin and Colleagues Announce Bipartisan Legislation to Expand Community-Based Mental Health and Addiction Services Nationwide

U.S. Representatives Markwayne Mullin (OK-02), Doris Matsui (CA-06), Angie Craig (MN-02), David B. McKinley, P.E. (WV-01), Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01), and Paul Tonko (NY-20) recently introduced the Excellence in Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Act of 2021, legislation that gives every state the opportunity to fully fund the establishment of Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics in their communities to expand access to high-quality mental health and addiction services. This legislation builds on the Certified Community Behavioral Health Center (CCBHC) program that was established through Congresswoman Matsui’s Excellence in Mental Health and Addiction Act, which became law in 2014. 

The 2014 legislation created a Medicaid demonstration program currently operating in ten states, where the integrated, sustainably financed CCBHC model for care delivery is alleviating decades-old challenges that have led to a crisis in access to mental health and addiction care. In addition, startup grants provided through Excellence legislation have expanded the number of clinics to more than 300 communities across 40 states, plus Washington D.C., and that number continues to grow. These clinics serve about 1.5 million people across the country.   

CCHBCs provide a comprehensive set of services, with an emphasis on the provision of 24/7/365 crisis care, 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.

“The Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC) pilot program in Oklahoma has provided assistance for those battling mental illness and substance abuse disorders for the last four years and the accomplishments are incredible,” Mullin said. “In my district, Grand Lake Mental Health Center has seen a 95 percent reduction in inpatient psychiatric admissions in its seven-county service area because of the program. I am proud to join my colleagues in introducing this bill so the good work being done in our communities can continue and so we can expand this successful program to more states.”

“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. “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.”

“In Congress, I’m working with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to ensure that every American – regardless of their zip code – can access affordable mental health treatment within their own community,” Craig said. “In Minnesota, Certified Community Behavioral Health Centers have proven especially effective at connecting patients in need with the services they depend on. Today, I’m proud to co-lead this commonsense legislation to build on that momentum by expanding and extending access to CCBHCs for Americans all across the country.”

“Over the last year, millions of Americans have struggled with anxiety, depression, and substance use due to the pandemic,” McKinley said. “Our bipartisan bill will help expand Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics across the country to ensure every American, especially those in rural communities have access to good-quality mental healthcare if and when they need it.”

“Now, more than ever, it is imperative we provide crucial support for the millions of those struggling with mental health in our country,” Fitzpatrick said. “As a Co-Chair of the Bipartisan Addiction and Mental Health Task Force, I am determined to push the federal government to educate, raise awareness, and take action to expand resources for all Americans struggling with mental and behavioral health issues.”

“I am proud of my work with Congresswoman Matsui as we stood shoulder to shoulder to get the original Excellence in Mental Health Act signed into law, and I could not be more excited to stand with her and our colleagues to further expand access to community-based mental health and addiction services with this new legislation,” Tonko said. “Certified Community Behavioral Health Centers are a critical, proven part of the healthcare networks currently serving the needs of our communities, and this legislation would provide needed resources to ensure these lifesaving services can continue for the people who need them most. As we continue the work of rebuilding, we must redouble our efforts to invest in and prioritize mental and behavioral health services and this bill does exactly that. I urge my colleagues in the House and Senate to advance this legislation without delay.”

“We need swift action to combat the rise in reported mental health conditions, overdose deaths and a shrinking mental health workforce, and Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics – CCBHCs – are proving to be an effective solution,” Chuck Ingoglia, President and CEO of the National Council for Mental Wellbeing, said. “They provide rapid and timely access to comprehensive mental health and substance use treatment services and are helping close the treatment gap in hundreds of communities across the country. This important legislation would allow every state the option of joining the CCBHC demonstration and expand access to mental health and substance use treatment to millions. We encourage Congress to pass the Excellence Act.”

Full text of the bill is available HERE. 

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