Announcement Date: September 14, 2018

On September 14th, BHECON hosted a Legislative Forum in Branson, MO in conjunction with the Missouri Coalition for Community Behavioral Healthcare’s annual conference. The panel featured three state representatives who serve on the House budget committee, including the chair, who took time to attend the panel despite being in special session in the state capital.

After some level setting on emerging issues in behavioral healthcare over the past two years and how it has brought together stakeholders and legislators in settings such as this panel discussion, the state legislators talked about some of the needs they see in the state.

Key themes from panel include increasing access and the need to invest in community-based care and suicide prevention. Successes of the Excellence Act, which established Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHCs) in Missouri, were also discussed as a model of how behavioral health care can best work for the people of Missouri. There was also discussion of how Missouri has attempted to address their provider shortage, such as expanding the scope of practice for advanced practice registered nurses. As of 2016, Missouri had only 16.7 mental health providers for every 10,000 residents, which was lower than the national average and insufficient to meet the needs of the population. Missouri needs to nearly double their behavioral health workforce to properly serve the state and has seen successful workforce growth through the CCBHC program.

State Representative Crystal Quade spoke on her belief that investment on the front end of the behavioral health care continuum saves money on the back end. Representatives Scott Fitzpatrick and Robert Ross also emphasized the need for an adequate workforce and importance of hearing from constituents about important behavioral health issues. The panel acknowledged the need for bipartisan support for these issues and expressed their commitment to work with Coalition members in improving behavioral health services in the state.