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Michael Petruzzelli

, National Council for Behavioral Health

Senate Subcommittee Approves Health Spending Bill

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On Tuesday, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services and Education approved funding for key health and education programs for the first time in seven years. This bill funds critical programs within the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and more. The FY2017 funding measure now awaits consideration from the full Senate Appropriations Committee.

Among the key provisions of interest to mental health and addiction providers across all Health and Human Service agencies are:

  • Substance Abuse and Prevention Treatment Block Grant: $1.779 billion (level funding to FY2016)
  • Mental Health First Aid: $15 million (level funding to FY2016). If enacted, this would represent the fourth consecutive year Congress has provided funding for this public education and awareness program.
  • Primary Behavioral Health Care Integration: $49.8 million (level funding to FY2016) This includes level funding of the PBHCI Technical Assistance Center at $2 million for FY17. It also reverses President Obama’s proposed cut to this program that provides grants to co-locate mental and physical health services in community behavioral health settings.
  • Community Mental Health Block Grant: $541 million ($30 million increase vs FY2016). The bill retains the required, ten percent set-aside for early intervention services.
  • Additional funding for various opioid abuse prevention initiatives within the Centers for Substance Abuse Treatment: ($261 million increase vs. FY2017) Highlights include:
    • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Prescription Drug Overdose Program: $28 million for FY2017
    • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s treatment, prevention and overdose reversal programs: $49 million for FY2017
    • Community Health Centers: $50 million for FY2017

Although funding for this bill was decreased by nearly $300 million from FY2016, the National Council is pleased with the bipartisan action taken by the Subcommittee, largely ensuring level funding for critical programs that support prevention, treatment and recovery supports for mental health and addictions. While level funding for critical programs such as the Substance Use and Prevention Treatment Block Grant is not ideal, there is hope that as the appropriations process continues, additional funding may be added to the final bill in recognition of these essential programs.  The National Council will continue its advocacy for additional funding resources for these important programs and will update its members as the appropriations process continues to unfold.