BHECON invited representatives from three Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHCs) in New York to come to Washington, DC, to meet with their federal legislators to discuss the future of their clinics. CCBHCs were authorized under the 2014 Excellence in Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Act as a two-year, eight state Medicaid demonstration project beginning in mid-2017. They have been working hard to fill the gaps in unmet need for mental health and addiction treatment and have proven to be successful in expanding access to comprehensive, evidence-based treatment in their communities.
With funding for CCBHCs set to expire at the end of June 2019, advocates from across the country have mobilized to encourage their members of Congress to act quickly to extend the program. As part of these efforts, senior leadership from BestSelf Behavioral Health in Buffalo, Spectrum Health and Human Services in Orchard Park and the University of Rochester Strong Memorial Hospital brought their message to Capitol Hill in November 2018, which was sponsored by BHECON.
What is at Stake Should CCBHC Funding Lapse?
During meetings with staff members in the offices of Rep. Brian Higgins (D-N.Y.-26) and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), the New York advocates illustrated the progress CCBHCs have made and, conversely, the losses their clinics and the state as a whole would sustain should congress fail to extend the program. More than 13,000 new clients across eight CCBHCs in New York would be expected to lose treatment access to some degree. Additionally, among those eight clinics, almost 400 new staff members hired due to the funding structure of the CCBHC program could risk losing their jobs should funding expire.
“We need your support to make sure that the Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic model is extended and expanded because it provides the level of support to behavioral health agencies that allows them to have the full range of services that are needed by the people we serve,” said Bruce Nisbet, CEO of Spectrum Health and Human Services. “Much like a Federally Qualified Health Center, a CCBHC is really a ‘Federally Qualified Behavioral Health Center’ in serving the most needy of our populations. The support that this program provides allows us to do it in a manner that you or I would want to have for our own cherished loved one.”
CCBHCs’ Successes to Date
Since Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics began their systems transformation two years ago, they have been filling the gap in unmet need for addiction care, supporting local criminal justice systems by providing effective diversion and reentry solutions and increasing access to evidence-based mental health and addiction treatment across the country. At BestSelf Behavioral Health alone, CCBHC status has allowed the organization to hire more than 80 new staff members to support the needs of their community, including adding on new peer specialists.
The advocates shared data and resources with the congressional staff members including the following: