The Excellence in Mental Health Act would allow up to 1.5 million more Americans living with addiction and mental health needs, including 200,000 returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan, to get the care they require. This important piece of legislation is sponsored by Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Roy Blunt (R-MO) and was introduced on Capitol Hill in the wake of the Newtown tragedy.
The Excellence Act would bolster our nation’s community mental health and addictions system, providing new support for integrated and simplified treatment to improve Americans’ health and lower costs for the federal and state governments by establishing federal status for qualifying provider organizations and granting them access to payment structures that support the cost of doing business.
In 2003, President George W. Bush’s New Freedom Commission on Mental Health found that “the [mental healthcare] system is in shambles.” Since that time, the situation has only gotten worse, as states have cut over $4 billion from addictions and mental health care over the course of the recession. Community mental health and addictions treatment centers struggle to continue providing services that help people lead healthy and productive lives – but funding cuts have left them to treat growing caseloads with fewer dollars.
The Excellence Act would create a new, voluntary pathway for community mental health and addictions organizations to become Certified Community Behavioral Health Centers (CCBHCs). Organizations would deliver specified services and meet requirements for reporting, standards of care, and oversight. In return, CCBHC status would provide a foundation for a whole-person approach to health that recognizes community behavioral healthcare organizations’ experience and potential in treating people with complex healthcare needs.
We need your assistance — please urge your Senators and Representative to sign on as cosponsors of the Excellence in Mental Health Act.