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Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

Addiction and Mental Health Funding Increases Included in Omnibus Budget Deal

December 17, 2015 | Federal Budget | Comments
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Late Tuesday night, House and Senate negotiators released the text of a compromise bill to keep the government funded through fiscal year 2016. The omnibus appropriations bill includes increases to key programs funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Among the highlights of the 2016 funding bill are:

  • $1.779 billion for the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant, a $38.2 million increase over 2015 levels.
  • Funding for various opioid abuse prevention initiatives, including:
    • Within the Targeted Capacity Expansion program, an increase of$13 million vs. 2015 levels to expand services that address prescription drug abuse and heroin use in high-risk communities. The funding provided will increase the number of States that receive Targeted Capacity Expansion funding from 11 to 22.
    • Within the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, $12 million for discretionary grants to States to prevent opioid overdose-related deaths. This program will help States equip and train first responders with the use of devices that rapidly reverse the effects of opioids.
    • Within the Strategic Prevention Framework Rx program, $10 million to increase awareness of opioid abuse and misuse in communities.
  • $15 million for Mental Health First Aid, the third consecutive year Congress has provided funding for this public education and awareness program.
  • $50 million for Primary Care-Behavioral Health Integration, reversing President Obama’s proposed cut to this program that provides grants to co-locate mental and physical health services in community behavioral health settings.
  • $511 million for the Mental Health Block Grant, a $50 million increase over 2015 levels. The agreement also increases the proportion of the required set-aside for early intervention services from 5% of block grant funds to 10%. The $50 million funding increase more than fully offsets the increased set-aside.

The National Council was thrilled to see Mental Health First Aid funded for the third straight year.

“Mental Health First Aid has sparked a movement that is changing America’s culture,” said Linda Rosenberg, president and CEO of the National Council. “The training not only teaches people to recognize signs and symptoms of mental illnesses and addictions, it gives them the confidence to intervene, the skills to safely deescalate a crisis situation, and the information they need to help someone care for themselves or get professional help. The National Council is grateful to Senator Kelly Ayotte, Representative Lynn Jenkins, Senator Richard Blumenthal, Representative Doris Matsui, and the other Members of Congress who have supported this important initiative.”

The omnibus funding bill also includes increases for a variety of mental health and addiction research activities. Funding for the BRAIN Initiative is set at $150 million in 2016, an $85 million increase vs. 2015 levels. The agreement also provides increases for research conducted through the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism as well as the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Despite the progress made in proposing a solution, reports from Capitol Hill indicate cohorts from both sides of aisle are concerned with the final omnibus product, placing jeopardy whether the agreement will actually pass. The latest short-term funding measure is set to expire on Tuesday, December 22. National Council will continue to monitor congressional appropriation activities and update Capitol Connector readers with new information.