National Council Hosts Integration Briefing on Capitol Hill
The National Council for Mental Wellbeing hosted a congressional staff briefing on Wednesday highlighting government programs and initiatives that promote the integration of primary and behavioral health care. The panel featured four grantees from the Promoting Integration of Primary and Behavioral Health Care grant program, two of whom are also participants in the Medicaid Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic demonstration program.
Panelists for this briefing included: Beth Ann Meints, Kalamazoo Community Mental Health & Substance Abuse Services, Michigan; Robert Cole, Connecticut Mental Health Center, Connecticut; Bridget Brown, Wallowa Valley Center, Oregon; Nathaniel Dell, Places for People, Missouri. Both Wallowa Valley Center and Places for People are also participating in the Excellence in Mental Health Act CCBHC Medicaid program.
PROMOTING INTEGRATION OF PRIMARY AND BEHAVIORAL HEALTH CARE (PIPBHC)
Data show that persons living with serious mental illness and substance use disorder die, on average, 25 years earlier than those without. However, it is often untreated co-morbid, chronic physical health conditions like diabetes, heart disease, hypertension and HIV/AIDS that are the leading cause of early death. Through the Promoting Integration of Primary and Behavioral Health Care grant program, state agencies partner with behavioral health providers and health centers to provide integrated primary and behavioral health care to populations that need it most.
Each panelist explained how this grant has changed their organization’s ability to meet the diverse and complex needs of their community. Robert Cole, Chief Operating Officer of CMHC in Connecticut called the PIPBHC program, “training wheels”, saying that the grant money and expert technical assistance offered by the SAMHSA-HRSA Center for Integrated Health Solutions were the support system CMHC needed to build working relationships with primary care physicians and facilities to offer truly integrated care in New Haven, CT. CMHC graduated the grant program in 2014 and still offers the key integrated care services.
Beth Ann Meints and Nathaniel Dell offered data demonstrating improvement in overall physical health and social outcomes for their patients. From lower body mass index (BMI) and blood pressure to increased medication adherence and more stable housing, the integrated care model immediately yielded positive results.
CERTIFIED COMMUNITY BEHAVIORAL HEALTH CLINICS (CCBHCs)
Both Bridget Brown from Wallowa Valley Center in Oregon and Nathaniel Dell from Places for People in Missouri are PIPBHC grantees and current participants of the Excellence in Mental Health Act CCBHC Medicaid program. Each panelist spoke about how the PIPBHC grant served as a foundation and a platform to become a Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic. Dell called the PIPBHC grant a “spring board” for becoming a CCBHC, highlighting increased staff competencies and data reporting requirements that were already implemented at Places for People prior to becoming a CCBHC.
The National Council hosted the briefing to advocate for both level funding of the Promoting Integration of Primary and Behavioral Health Care grant program in FY2019 and the passage of the Excellence in Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Expansion Act (S. 1905/ H.R. 3931) which would extend the eight current CCBHC states by one year and allow two new states to participate in the CCBHC program.