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The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced a new funding opportunity for states to develop and transform Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHCs) to address the country’s mental health crisis. 

In addition to the nearly $300 million awarded in September for new and existing CCBHCs, $15 million in additional funding was announced on Oct. 18 for CCBHC planning. 

CCBHCs provide crisis services that are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and serve anyone who requests care for mental health or substance use, regardless of their ability to pay. 

“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,” Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said. 

“Behavioral health is health. Period. There should be no distinction. This investment will bring us closer to that reality.”

The HHS said the 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.

Additionally, the Excellence in Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Act in 2014, led by Sens. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), transformed the way mental health and addiction services are funded. 

The law created CCBHCs, which receive reimbursement through Medicaid for the total cost of services they provide at higher, more competitive rates than community mental health centers currently receive, according to the HHS.

“For too long, emergency rooms and law enforcement have served as the de facto mental health care delivery system in our country,” Sen. Blunt said. “Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics are changing that, helping people get the comprehensive behavioral health care they need, when they need it.”

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 the HHS. 

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, 15 states will be awarded up to $1 million for one-year planning grants. Then, from those that submit a successful demonstration application, ten will be selected to be in the actual CCBHC demonstration, starting in 2024, said the HHS. 

“Our mental health care and addiction initiative is a proven success story and is transforming mental health and addiction treatment across our country,” Stabenow said. “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,” she said.

Sarafina Wright is a staff writer at the Washington Informer where she covers business, community events, education, health and politics. She also serves as the editor-in-chief of the WI Bridge, the Informer’s...

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