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The White House Announces Millions of Dollars in New Funds for States to Tackle Mental Health Crisis

American Counseling Association

On October 18, 2022, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), announced a new funding opportunity, authorized by the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA). Led by Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO), the BSCA improves access to mental health services for children, youth, and families through the Medicaid program and CHIP; increases access to mental health services for families in crisis via telehealth; provides major investments at the Department of Health and Human Services to programs that expand provider training in mental health; and supports national expansion of community behavioral health center (CCBHCs) model.

CCBHCs provide crisis services that are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and serves anyone who requests care for mental health or substance use disorder, regardless of their ability to pay. This new funding stream will allow states to develop and transform CCBHCs to address the country’s mental health crisis.

CCBHCs are required to:

  • Meet federal standards for the range of services that they provide.

  • Enter clients into care quickly.

  • Provide crisis services that are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

  • Provide routine outpatient care within 10 business days after an initial contact to prevent clients from languishing on waiting lists, as well as care that is high quality and that, whenever possible, is evidence-based.

  • Serve anyone who requests care for mental health or substance use disorder, regardless of their ability to pay, place of residence, or age, and they include developmentally appropriate care for children and youth.

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 which will be awarded early next year. This additional round of planning grants kicks off national CCBHC expansion and will expand access to planning grants for CCBHC’s to all 50 states.

“Today’s announcement of funding to expand Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics is a critical step in helping to expand the availability of evidence-based community mental health services. These clinics are proven to improve health outcomes while lowering costs, by delivering 24/7 mental health and substance use care to millions of Americans, no matter who they are or whether they have ability to pay,” said President Biden.

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.

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.

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