- The Biden administration announced it is awarding $15 million in new grants early next year to states building out community behavioral health clinics, on top of almost $300 million awarded in September.
- The funds, authorized by the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act in June that provided $11 billion for mental health services, are meant to help address the ongoing mental health crisis in the U.S., Biden administration officials said in a Tuesday briefing.
- HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra called the government-certified clinics, which provide around-the-clock crisis services and see patients regardless of their ability to pay, “the glue that brings together” treating mental health on par with physical health in the U.S. “We are connecting the dots,” Becerra said.
President Joe Biden has made addressing mental health a key prong of his healthcare agenda as rates of depression and anxiety continue to skyrocket, causing the U.S. surgeon general to declare a “devastating” national mental health crisis at the end of 2021.
Over the past few weeks, the government has announced the availability of funding for school-based mental health professionals, trauma services and telemental health services for young adults. In addition, the 988 mental health crisis line launched in July to connect callers with local crisis counselors, and the government has invested in improving its capacity amid concerns about surging demand.
Now, the HHS is further bolstering Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics. A 2014 law created CCBHCs, which are reimbursed through Medicaid for the services they provide at higher rates than community mental health centers currently receive.
Communities with a CCBHC report decreased homelessness, decreased time in correctional facilities, fewer emergency room visits due to mental health needs and fewer patient hospitalizations within six months of the clinic going live, Miriam Delphin-Rittmon, assistant secretary for mental health and substance use, said Tuesday.
There are more than 400 CCBHCs currently operating in the U.S., according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
In 2016, the HHS selected Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon and Pennsylvania to participate in the initial CCBHCs demonstration. The HHS later added two additional states, Kentucky and Michigan, to the demonstration, which was been expanded several times in 2019 and 2020.
Now, in early 2023, up to 15 states will be awarded up to $1 million for one-year planning grants. The HHS will select 10 states to be in the actual CCBHC demonstration starting in 2024, though the BSCA allows for any state that’s completed a planning grant and successfully applied to the program to eventually join.
During the planning stage, states will work toward meeting federal standards for the CCBHC model, work with the CMS to establish prospective payment systems for Medicaid-reimbursable services and prepare their application for the four-year demonstration program, according to Delphin-Rittmon.
Last month, the HHS awarded $296.2 million to establish new CCBHCs and build out existing ones, with $66 million stemming from American Rescue Plan funds allocated to address pandemic-related stressors affecting mental health, according to regulators. The funding expansion was first announced in March.
At the briefing, Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., cheered the funding expansion for the clinics, but said Congress should work to make funding to combat substance abuse and improve mental health permanent and not dependent on grants.
That’s “an area we could still do more in,” Stabenow, who co-led the 2014 law that established CCBHBCs with Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Miss., said.