March 22, 2018
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The 2018 budget agreement released yesterday by the House of Representatives contains significant support for many programs that will help individuals living with mental illness and addiction access treatment in their communities. The National Council for Mental Wellbeing is grateful to Congress for these important investments.
The National Council applauds the agreement for including a down payment of $100 million on Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHCs). Almost halfway through their two-year demonstration program, CCBHCs are emerging as a critical tool in states’ efforts to fight the opioid crisis. To date, the nation’s 67 CCBHCs are expanding their capacity to serve Americans living with addiction by launching new opioid treatment programs, adding hundreds of addiction-specialty clinicians to their staff, expanding use of medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder and implementing partnerships with law enforcement and hospitals to divert individuals from higher-cost settings such as jails or emergency rooms into community treatment. CCBHCs have seen significant increases to their patient caseloads and are reporting decreases in hospitalizations and re-arrests – evidence that when incentivized to provide evidence-based care and provided compensation to cover their cost of serving new populations, CCBHCs can transform access to care in their communities. We need CCBHCs in every community, but to do this more than $100 million is needed. The National Council urges Congress to take swift action to extend this initiative beyond the current two-year limit and expand participation to additional states.
The budget also included billions in new funding toward opioid use treatment, prevention and research. This includes $1 billion for State Opioid Response Grants and the expansion of eligibility for loan repayment awards through the National Health Service Corps to include substance use disorder counselors, which will support the recruitment and retention of the health professionals that are needed in under-served areas to provide evidence-based substance use treatment and prevent overdose deaths.
The National Council was pleased to see an increase of $5 million more in funding for Mental Health First Aid, bringing contributions to this important public education and training program to a total of $19.963 million. This will support training for local law enforcement agencies, fire departments and emergency medical units, equipping these first responders with the skills to constructively intervene when someone is experiencing a mental health or addiction crisis and connect them to appropriate help in the community.
Funding was maintained for the Primary and Behavioral Healthcare Integration program, which has provided screening and treatment for physical health conditions like diabetes, heart disease and other common and deadly illnesses for more than 98,000 individuals living with serious mental illness or addiction at more than 213 grantee sites.
The National Council encourages Congress and the president to quickly approve this budget. We remain committed to working with the administration and Congress to improve the lives of all individuals living with mental illness and addiction.
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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 million Americans have been trained.