Past Releases: Federal Status for Community Mental Health-Addictions
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Reps. Engel and Matsui Introduce Amendment for Federal Designation
Washington, DC (July 21, 2009) — A definition for “Federally Qualified Behavioral Health Centers (FQBHCs)” was included in proposed federal legislation for the first time yesterday. The National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare, which has championed the creation of FQBHCs, commends Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) and Rep. Doris Matsui (D-CA) for introducing the definition in an amendment passed by the House Energy and Commerce Committee to the America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009 — a bill currently under consideration in the U.S. House of Representatives that seeks to provide affordable, quality healthcare for all Americans.
The definition of FQBHCs is an important first step toward strengthening the safety net that struggles to meet the significant and growing unmet need for comprehensive healthcare services for persons with mental illnesses and addiction disorders. More than one in four adult uninsured Americans has a mental illness, a substance use disorder, or both. Coverage expansions proposed by Congress could result in as many as 2.8 million persons with serious mental illness entering the public mental health system. However, as result of state budget crises, mental health funding is being reduced in many states leaving provider agencies no choice but to reduce services, close programs, and impose hiring freezes.
“Creation of FQBHCs places mental health and addictions treatment providers on equal footing with the rest of healthcare, paving the way for our nation to make good on its commitment to persons with serious mental illnesses and addiction disorders — to provide the right care, at the right time, in their communities. We are immensely grateful to Representatives Engel and Matsui for this first step,” said Linda Rosenberg, president and CEO of the National Council.
“FQBHCs help set the government on the path of helping to protect the most vulnerable among us,” said Chuck Ingoglia, the National Council’s Vice President, Public Policy. “We will once again have national standards of care that promote recovery for persons with serious mental illness,” he added.
The Engel-Matsui FQBHC amendment spells out that in order to be certified as FQBHCs, community mental health centers and other community programs must be able to provide person-centered, multi-disciplinary, evidence-based screening, assessment, diagnostic, treatment, prevention and wellness services and must be able to link patients to other essential community health and social services. They must facilitate peer support and counselor services as well as family supports.
The National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare is a not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) association of 1,600 behavioral healthcare organizations that provide treatment and rehabilitation for mental illnesses and addictions disorders to nearly six million adults, children and families in communities across the country. The National Council and its members bear testimony to the fact that medical, social, psychological and rehabilitation services offered in community settings help people with mental illnesses and addiction disorders recover and lead productive lives.