States being spurred to develop community clinics for mental health

Oct. 19, 2022

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), is announcing a new funding opportunity, authorized by the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA), for states to develop and transform Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHCs) to address the country’s mental health crisis. CCBHCs provide crisis services that are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and serve anyone who requests care for mental health or substance use, regardless of their ability to pay.

In addition to the nearly $300 million awarded in September for new and existing CCBHCs, $15 million in additional funding is now being announced for CCBHC planning. This additional round of planning grants kicks off national CCBHC expansion under the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, and will expand access to planning grants for CCBHC’s to all 50 states.

This announcement builds on the progress President Biden has made in his commitment to tackling the country’s mental health crisis by expanding access to mental and behavioral health supports and services – a key priority outlined in his first State of the Union address.

“With these additional funds, we’re delivering on President Biden’s commitment to strengthen mental and behavioral health for all Americans, including people living in our nation’s most vulnerable communities,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra. “Behavioral health is health. Period. There should be no distinction. This investment will bring us closer to that reality.”

The Excellence in Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Act in 2014, led by Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-Michigan) and Roy Blunt (R-Missouri), transformed the way mental health and addiction services are funded, closing the gap in funding between physical and behavioral health care. The law created CCBHCs, which receive reimbursement through Medicaid for the full cost of services they provide at higher, more competitive rates than community mental health centers currently receive.

“Our mental health care and addiction initiative is a proven success story and is transforming mental health and addiction treatment across our country. Now, every state will be able to join and make sure health care above the neck is funded the same way as health care below the neck. Senator Blunt was a great partner with me in passing the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, and together with the Biden-Harris Administration, our highly successful clinics will begin to reach people in every corner of our country,” said Senator Stabenow.

“Our Excellence in Mental Health demonstration program has shown that treating mental health like all other health is not only the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do,” said Senator Blunt. “For too long, emergency rooms and law enforcement have served as the de facto mental health care delivery system in our country. Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics are changing that, helping people get the comprehensive behavioral health care they need, when they need it. Today’s announcement builds on the success we have seen in states that are currently part of the Excellence program, including Missouri and Michigan. I’m grateful for Senator Stabenow’s nearly decade-long partnership in this effort, and the support of the Biden administration. Giving every state the opportunity to be a part of the Excellence program is a huge milestone that will help millions of Americans live longer, healthier, happier lives.”

Ten states, Michigan, Missouri, Kentucky, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon and Pennsylvania, were selected from among 24 states that received one-year planning grants from HHS. States must receive a planning grant in order to apply to be in the demonstration program.

The remaining 40 U.S. states and the District of Columbia are eligible to submit applications for planning grants to develop CCBHCs in their states. In early 2023, up to 15 states will be awarded up to $1 million for one-year planning grants, and from those that submit a successful demonstration application, 10 will be selected to be in the actual CCBHC demonstration, starting in 2024.  While 10 states will join the initiative in 2024, the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act allows for any state that has completed a planning grant and submits a successful application, to eventually join if they want. The CCBHC planning phase assists states in certifying clinics as CCBHCs, establish prospective payment systems for Medicaid reimbursable services, and prepare an application to participate in a four-year demonstration program.

“Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics are transforming behavioral health systems one community at a time,” said Miriam Delphin-Rittmon, Ph.D., HHS Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use and the leader of SAMHSA. “Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics expand the quality and speed of behavioral health help to those in need.”

“I applaud SAMHSA’s steps to expand access to critical behavioral health services through this funding announcement,” said CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure. “Thanks to the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, we are proud to partner with SAMHSA to expand access to critical behavioral health care.”

Last month, HHS awarded $296.2 million to communities across the U.S. to establish new CCBHCs and improve and advance existing clinics. Approximately $66 million came from American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds intended to address pandemic-related stressors that have increased mental health conditions among Americans. HHS announced this dramatic increase in CCBHC funding earlier this year.

CCBHCs are required to meet federal standards for the range of services that they provide, and they are required to get people into care quickly. The CCBHC model requires crisis services that are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. CCBHCs must also provide routine outpatient care within 10 business days after an initial contact to prevent people from languishing on waiting lists, as well as care that is high quality and that, whenever possible, is evidence based. Equally important, CCBHCs are required to serve anyone who requests care for mental health or substance use, regardless of their ability to pay, place of residence, or age, and they include developmentally appropriate care for children and youth.

HHS release