Press Releases: Mental Health-Addictions Advocates Visit Congress
Contact: Communications@thenationalcouncil.org, 202-684-7457
Washington DC, June 29, 2010—More than 500 members of the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare (National Council) are meeting tomorrow with their members of Congress to advocate for adequate and effectively-funded services to help people with mental illnesses and addiction disorders live full and productive lives. On the occasion of the National Council’s Sixth Annual Hill Day, stakeholders — including persons with mental and addictions disorders, families, community members and healthcare providers — are asking their legislators to cosponsor a health information technology bill, support the creation of federally qualified behavioral health centers, extend federal assistance for Medicaid, and increase federal block grant funding for mental health and addictions services.
“Budget cuts nationwide have left gaping holes in our country’s mental health safety net, a support system that so many people with mental health and substance use disorders rely on,” says Linda Rosenberg, president and CEO of the National Council. “Without treatment, many of the nation’s most vulnerable citizens will end up in emergency rooms, homeless or in the criminal justice system — all of which will cost taxpayers more in the long run.”
The National Council’s four legislative priorities include:
• Enlist cosponsors for the Health Information Technology for Behavioral Health Services Act of 2010 (H.R. 5040), a bill that would help mental health providers access electronic health records grants and incentives established by last year’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The law restricts mental health organizations from using most of the incentives that help healthcare providers and hospitals establish a nationwide health information technology (HIT) system.
• Support for the creation of Federally Qualified Behavioral Health Centers. The centers would receive reimbursement for the costs of providing services to children and adults with mental health and substance use problems while meeting clearly-defined national standards to receive such reimbursement and meet increased demand for services.
• Support a $210 million increase in the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant and a $100 million increase in the Mental Health Block Grant.
• A six-month extension for the enhanced Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) rates originally included in the economic recovery act. These rates are currently set to expire on Dec. 31, 2010, leaving many states without sufficient resources to meet high levels of demand for Medicaid services during the economic recession from our nation’s most vulnerable populations.
For more information about the National Council’s Hill Day, visit http://www.thenationalcouncil.org/cs/join_us_in_2010
The National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare is a not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) association of 1,700 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.