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Michael Petruzzelli

, National Council for Behavioral Health

Senate Committee Holds Mental Health Hearing, Linda Rosenberg Testifies

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On Thursday, the Senate Finance Committee convened a hearing to discuss the status of mental health in America. Linda Rosenberg, president and CEO of the National Council for Behavioral Health, testified before the Committee, highlighting the challenges facing the behavioral health system and how the Excellence in Mental Health Act and Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHCs) can and should be the answer.

“But it’s not just access—we need uniform high-quality services. Unfortunately, the adoption of research based practice is limited,” said Rosenberg. “CCBHCs can move the needle. They’re required to offer evidence-based services and are paid a rate inclusive of these activities. Through outcome tracking and quality bonus payments, clinics will be held accountable for patients’ progress – a critical step in our nation’s move to value based purchasing.” Read her full statement here.

Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) opened the hearing calling on his colleagues to do what’s best for both patients and providers. “Across the nation families struggle with mental health illnesses that often times rob them of parents, siblings, children and friends,” Hatch said. “To combat these serious issues, we should explore ways to provide care in the interest of both patients and providers.”

Highlights of the hearing included: an in-depth discussion about the expansion of the Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic demonstration program, debate over a potential alleviation of a Medicaid payment prohibition for residential substance use treatment organizations and an overall discussion of congressional efforts to fund prevention, treatment and recovery supports in the FY2017 budget.

The remainder of the witness panel included: Brandon Marshall, Executive Chairman and Co-Founder, Project 375; Dr. Margaret Bennington-Davis, Chief Medical Officer, Health Share of Oregon; and Douglas P. Thomas, Director, Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health, State of Utah.