Announcement Date: March 15, 2019

A bipartisan bill that would extend and expand the Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC) model was introduced Thursday, March 14, in both chambers of Congress by Sens. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and Reps. Doris Matsui (D-Calif.) and Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.). The Excellence in Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Expansion Act (S. 824/ H.R. 1767), a long-time priority of the National Council for Behavioral Health and supported by BHECON, would bring CCBHCs to 11 new states that have already invested time in planning for the program and would add two more years for the eight states participating in the CCBHC demonstration.

Early Successes of CCBHCs

Since CCBHC 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.

Legislation Reintroduced

At a press conference Thursday, March 14, celebrating the reintroduction of the Excellence in Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Expansion Act (S. 824/ H.R. 1767), individuals from communities touched by the successes of the CCBHC model shared their stories. Dea Duggan, a woman living with mental health and substance use challenges, credits a CCBHC and National Council member in Buffalo, N.Y., BestSelf Behavioral Health, with turning her life around. “Since coming to BestSelf, I have been able to see a counselor, addiction doctor, nurse, psychiatric nurse practitioner, case manager and a peer specialist all under one roof,” said Duggan. “If these services were taken away, I’d be devastated and lost with no direction on how to move forward. I can confidently say that this clinic has saved my life and helped me grow into the woman I am today.”

Laura Heebner, with Compass Health Network, a National Council member, highlighted the difference CCBHC status has made in her organization’s ability to provide timely and critical treatment to people across Missouri. “What we’ve been able to accomplish as a result of the Excellence Act demonstration is nothing short of astonishing,” said Heebner. “As a CCBHC, we have been able to expand our continuum of care and improve quality. We’ve been able to attract and retain skilled professionals and we have been able to engage our hospital and law enforcement partners to get people the care they need in the most effective and cost-efficient manner possible.”

The National Council greatly appreciates the leadership and dedication of Sens. Stabenow and Blunt, Reps. Matsui and Mullin, and all of the Congressional cosponsors who are championing this legislation to bring the life-saving CCBHC model to every corner of the country. Watch the press conference.

This article originally appeared in the National Council’s Capitol Connector and was drafted by Shelley Starkey.