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Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

Bipartisan Excellence in Mental Health Act Introduced in House

May 10, 2013 | Uncategorized | Comments
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doris matsui excellence in mental health act

Congresswoman Doris Matsui (D-CA) and Congressman Leonard Lance (D-NJ) this week introduced the Excellence in Mental Health Act (H.R. 1263). This legislation would support the nation’s community mental health and addictions system by establishing national standards and oversight for Certified Community Behavioral Health Centers. For the 1 in 5 Americans living with mental illnesses and addictions, this would mean greater access to the services and treatments needed to keep them healthy and safe in their communities.

The legislation was previously introduced in the Senate by Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Roy Blunt (R-MO), along with 10 bipartisan cosponsors, on February 8.

“Behavioral health has long been left out of the federal dictionary,” said Linda Rosenberg, president and CEO of the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare. “As a result, mental health and addiction providers cannot receive the federal funds so critical to other safety net providers. They share the safety-net’s unique responsibilities — but none of the supports.”

Community mental health and addiction providers struggle to meet the existing needs of vulnerable Americans because of cobbled funding streams and insufficient resources.

“Members on both sides of the aisle recognize that now is the time to bolster funding and services for mental health care and ensure all Americans have access to the treatment they need. The bipartisan Excellence in Mental Health Act will address our nation’s fragmented mental health system by enhancing Medicaid funding for community mental health centers that offer evidence-based treatment and support for millions of vulnerable people with mental health disorders,” said Congresswoman Matsui. “It is time for mental health to be treated on a level playing field with the rest of our nation’s healthcare system. The federal government must step up and protect the mental health safety net, which has faced tremendous struggles across the country.”

The cosponsors of H.R. 1263 are Diana DeGette (D-CO), Eliot Engel (D-NY), Lynn Jenkins (R-KS), and Henry Waxman (D-CA).