Oregon Congressional Delegation Urged to Preserve Millions in Federal Funding to Maintain Progress Against Opioid Crisis


Sophia Majlessi
(202) 621-1631

12 Behavioral Health Centers Will Lose Funding for More Than 250 Professionals Providing Critical Services to Over 50,000 Oregonians Without Immediate Congressional Action

WASHINGTON, D.C. (January 31, 2019) – Leaders of 12 Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHCs) in Oregon sent a letter to Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Reps. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR-1), Greg Walden (R-OR-2), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR-3), Peter DeFazio (D-OR-4) and Kurt Schrader (D-OR-5) urging them to support the Excellence in Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Expansion Act (S. 1905/H.R. 3931). Passing this legislation will ensure that Oregon does not abandon the progress made in expanding mental health and addiction care by extending current CCBHCs’ activities for one more year.

The 2014 bipartisan Excellence in Mental Health Act established CCBHC demonstration projects in eight states, including Oregon. Since launching in 2017, Oregon has leveraged new funding to dramatically improve access to community-based addiction and mental health care, particularly opioid addiction services. CCBHCs in Oregon have hired new addiction-focused clinicians, expanded medication-assisted treatment (MAT) and other addiction services, and reduced patient wait times. However, with the CCBHC demonstration funding set to expire on March 31, 2019, access to these lifesaving treatments could be lost without immediate Congressional action.

In less than two years, the 12 CCBHCs in Oregon have enhanced their capacity to deliver integrated care, including:

  • Adding more than 250 full-time staff, including psychiatrists, therapists, telehealth clinicians and substance use disorder treatment providers and increasing staff retention overall.
  • Serving more than 50,000 Oregonians with increased screening for physical and mental health conditions including cervical and colorectal cancer, diabetes, tobacco use, BMI and depression.
  • Increasing availability of same-day access appointments to 75 percent.
  • Increasing availability of MAT with 86 percent of Oregon CCBHCs making at least one MAT medication available, compared to only 36 percent nationwide.
  • Increasing the number of veterans receiving care.
  • Implementing innovative partnerships with criminal justice agencies to help reduce recidivism.

“If funding for the CCBHC initiative is not renewed, the consequences for Oregon are significant, beginning with an immediate workforce reduction in a system that is already understaffed and undercompensated,” said Cherryl Ramirez, MPA, MPH, executive director of the Association of Oregon Community Mental Health Programs. “Reduced staffing levels would quickly translate into the reintroduction of waiting lists for services, the elimination of key programs and hundreds of residents losing access to addiction treatment.”

“CCBHC funding has made a world of difference to our clients,” said Jeffrey Eisen, MD, chief medical officer for Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare. “We have enrolled nearly 700 behavioral health clients in primary care in one year. We are addressing chronic health issues, improving quality of life, and keeping individuals out of costly emergency departments. CCBHC funding has also enabled us to increase the number of providers qualified to deliver medication-assisted treatment to those struggling with opioid addiction by seven times. We are just starting to see the progress in our work and we really cannot go back.”

In addition to national outreach, the leaders of the 12 CCBHCs in Oregon are also urging the state’s federal congressional delegation to support legislation to preserve millions in federal funding for Oregon as part of an innovative initiative to expand access to comprehensive mental health and addiction treatment.

Oregon’s 12 CCBHCsCity
Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare (3 sites)Portland
Columbia Community Mental HealthSt. Helens
Community Counseling SolutionsJohn Day
Deschutes County Health Services (4 sites)Bend, La Pine, Redmond
LifeWorks NW (4 sites)Portland, Gresham, Hillsboro, Beaverton
Klamath Basin Behavioral HealthKlamath Falls
Mid-Columbia Center for Living (2 sites)The Dalles, Hood River
Options for Southern OregonGrants Pass
PeaceHealth Behavioral Health ServicesEugene
Symmetry Care Inc.Burns
Wallowa Valley Center for WellnessEnterprise
Yamhill County Health and Human Services (2 sites)McMinnville, Newberg


The National Council for Mental Wellbeing is the unifying voice of America’s health care organizations that deliver mental health and addictions treatment and services. Together with our 2,900 member organizations serving over 10 million adults, children and families living with mental illnesses and addictions, the National Council is committed to all Americans having access to comprehensive, high-quality care that affords every opportunity for recovery. The National Council introduced Mental Health First Aid USA and more than 1.5 million Americans have been trained.

About The National Council

Founded in 1969, the National Council for Mental Wellbeing is a membership organization that drives policy and social change on behalf of over 3,400 mental health and substance use treatment organizations and the more than 10 million children, adults and families they serve. We advocate for policies to ensure equitable access to high-quality services. We build the capacity of mental health and substance use treatment organizations. And we promote greater understanding of mental wellbeing as a core component of comprehensive health and health care. Through our Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) program, we have trained more than 3 million people in the U.S. to identify, understand and respond to signs and symptoms of mental health and substance use challenges.