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Excellence in Mental Health Act


Watch Senator Debbie Stabenow speak about the Excellence in Mental Health Act here.



On March 31, 2014, Congress passed the Protecting Access to Medicare Act (H.R. 4302), which included a demonstration program based on the Excellence in Mental Health Act. The Excellence Act will increase Americans’ access to community mental health and substance use treatment services while improving Medicaid reimbursement for these services. When fully implemented, the Excellence Act will infuse over $1 billion into the behavioral health system, making it the biggest federal investment in mental health and addiction services in generations.

The Excellence in Mental Health Act: How Did We Get Here? Download our one-pager on the components of the Excellence Act and how it will transform our behavioral health system.

Why is the Excellence in Mental Health Act a Game-Changer? Download our one-pager on the impact this law will have on communities, states, providers, and consumers.

The Mental Health Overhaul that’s Already Underway. From Mid-Missouri Public Radio, read this take on the Excellence in Mental Health Act’s historic role in revitalizing community-based behavioral health care.


Implementation Status

On October 19, 2015, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration announced the 24 states that will receive funding as part to prepare for possible participation in the demonstration program. The National Council for Behavioral Health congratulates these states receiving funding as part of the $22.9 million grant announcement. States have now embarked on a one-year planning period.

PRESS RELEASE: HHS awards up to $22.9 million in Planning Grants for Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (Click the link to view a list of the 24 states.)


components of the Excellence in Mental Health Act

This law:

  • Creates criteria for “Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics” as entities designed to serve individuals with serious mental illnesses and substance use disorders that provide intensive, person-centered, multidisciplinary, evidence-based screening, assessment, diagnostics, treatment, prevention, and wellness services. Federal guidance on the CCBHC criteria is available here. Read our one-pager, “What is a CCBHC?” here.
  • Provides funding that will be available to states as planning grants to develop applications to participate in the 2-year pilot. Through a competitive process, in October 2015 SAMHSA awarded grants to 24 states to begin putting together their certification processes and developing their payment methodologies. Only states that have received a planning grant will be eligible to apply to participate in the pilot.
  • Stipulates that eight (8) states will be selected to participate in the 2-year pilot program.  The match rate for Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic services is either the Enhanced FMAP/CHIP rate or, for newly eligible “expansion” Medicaid beneficiaries, the current FMAP for that population – which is 100% now and moves down to 90% by 2020.
  • Requires participating states to develop a Prospective Payment System (See Appendix III of the linked document) for reimbursing Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics for required services provided by these entities.
  • Requires Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics to engage in partnerships with a variety of health system partners, from primary care to hospitals, VA centers, and more. The emphasis on these partnerships reflects the need for health care organizations to work together to demonstrate concrete health outcomes and high-value care.
  • Improves behavioral health resources for public safety by providing a much-needed infusion of funding into the addiction and mental health system, expanding treatment capacity and alleviating the burden on public safety officers.



May, 2015: The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released guidance on how they will be implementing the Excellence in Mental Health Act, including certification criteria, prospective payment guidance, and the planning grant applications.

August 5, 2015: Deadline for states to submit planning grant applications to SAMHSA. Only states that apply will be eligible to receive federal funding for planning grants. Only states that have received a planning grant are eligible to apply for and participate in the two-year demonstration program.

October 19, 2015: 24 planning grant awards were announced. The one-year planning grant funds can be used to support states as they determine how CCBHCs best fit within current system redesign efforts.  States can leverage this opportunity plan and implement other delivery and payment reform efforts.

October 31, 2016: Deadline for states to submit their applications to participate in the demonstration. The demonstration program includes provisions that will provide CCBHCs with the financial footing to deliver these required services.

January, 2017: Deadline for the Secretary to select the states that will participate in the demonstration program. Only states that have received a planning grant are eligible to participate. The states will be selected through a competitive application process and must represent a diverse selection of geographic areas, including rural and underserved areas.








ORganizationS Supporting the excellence in mental health act

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
American Group Psychotherapy Association
American Mental Health Counselors Association
American Occupational Therapy Association
American Orthopsychiatric Association
American Psychiatric Association
American Psychiatric Nurses Association
Anxiety and Depression Association of America
Association for Ambulatory Behavioral Healthcare
Association for Behavioral Health and Wellness
Association for the Advancement of Psychology
Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law
Child Welfare League of America
Clinical Social Work Association
Clinical Social Work Guild
Community Oriented Correctional Health Services
Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
Faces and Voices of Recovery
Hazelden Betty Ford, Institute for Recovery Advocacy
International Bipolar Foundation
Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America
Legal Action Center
Mental Health America
Military Mental Health Project
NAADAC, The Association for Addiction Professionals
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)
National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD)
National Association of Counties
National Association of County Behavioral Health and Developmental Disability Directors
National Association of Mental Health Planning & Advisory Councils
National Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems
National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors (NASMHPD)
National Coalition on Health Care
National Council for Behavioral Health
National Disability Rights Network
National Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health
National Fraternal Order of Police
National Guard Association of the United States, Inc.
National Sheriffs’ Association
Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association
School Social Work Association of America
The Jewish Federations of North America
The Trevor Project
Third Way
Witness Justice



©2015 National Council for Behavioral Health. All Rights Reserved.