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Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

Details Emerge about 2014 Substance Use and Mental Health Funding

January 23, 2014 | Federal Budget | Comments
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Late last week, President Obama signed the fiscal year 2014 budget into law. Included in the budget bill were a number of important priorities for substance use and mental healthcare, a rare victory in a congressional session that has seen major cuts to discretionary spending.

Overall, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services received $3.6 billion for 2014, including $62 million from the health reform law’s Prevention and Public Health Fund. Additional details about the line items in the SAMHSA budget have emerged from the conference committee report which accompanies the budget bill. Among this year’s successes were:

  • Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant. $1.8 billion was allocated to the SAPT block grant, an increase of $19 million vs. fiscal year 2012.* Importantly, the bill reverses prior HHS practice of using the block grant as a source for the “evaluation tap” – a percentage of funding that is automatically set aside for agency-wide evaluation activities. This results in nearly $80 million of funding that will now go towards programmatic activities instead of to the tap.
  • Community Mental Health Services Block Grant. The Mental Health Block Grant received $484 million, an increase of $24 million over fiscal year 2012.* Like the SAPT block grant, it is exempted from the evaluation tap, resulting in additional funding now available for programmatic activities. The 5% increase is to be used for evidence-based programs that address the needs of individuals with early serious mental illness, including psychotic disorders.
  • Mental Health First Aid. The budget provides $15 million for a new grant program to provide MHFA training to police officers, first responders, judges, social workers and the staff of college and university counseling centers, among others. This initiative was included in the President’s “Now is the Time” recommendations in the wake of the tragic shooting in Newtown, CT.
  • Primary-Behavioral Health Care Integration. The PBHCI grant program received $50 million, an increase of $19 million over FY 2013 and the highest allocation of SAMHSA funds in the program’s five-year history (in prior years, the Prevention Fund has also been used to support PBHCI).

The Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment program – which provides support to grantees implementing SBIRT with individuals experiencing or at risk for substance abuse disorders – received a substantial cut in 2014. The budget funds SBIRT at $47 million, a decrease of about $6 million vs. FY 2013.

The budget includes level funding for:

  • Youth Violence Prevention: $23.2 million
  • National Child Traumatic Stress Network: $46 million
  • Homelessness prevention programs: $30.8 million
  • American Indian/Alaska Native suicide prevention: $2.9 million
  • Project LAUNCH: $34.6 million

The delayed enactment of the FY 2014 budget has pushed back the date by which President Obama will release his 2015 budget requests. Traditionally, the President’s budget is released on the first Monday of February. Obama announced today that his FY 2015 proposals will be released March 4.

*Fiscal year 2012 is used as the basis for comparison because there was no enacted budget in 2013. Congress funded the government through a series of continuing resolutions that largely maintained 2012 spending levels.