Behavioral Health Leaders Urge Congress to Expand CCBHC Medicaid Demonstration

Dozens of behavioral health organizations are urging Congress to expand the Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC) Medicaid demonstration, which is set to expire May 22.

In a letter released Tuesday, 60 stakeholders asked lawmakers to extend the demonstration for the eight states currently participating and expand the program to nearly a dozen more states. Specifically, they’re pushing Congress to support a bill that extends the program for 2 years and adds another 11 states to the demonstration. 

The letter, released by the National Council for Behavioral Health, is also signed by the American Psychological Association, American Society of Addiction Medicine, American Psychiatric Association and the National Alliance on Mental Illness, in addition to dozens of other behavioral health organizations.

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CCBHCs in the Medicaid demonstration provide a comprehensive range of around-the-clock mental health and substance use disorder (SUD) services to the under- and uninsured. In return, they get a higher Medicaid reimbursement rate, which allows clinics to pay more competitive wages, provide more services and help more people. CCBHCs also collaborate with law enforcement, hospitals and schools.

If the program runs out in May, the ramifications could be deadly, according to the organizations who penned the letter to Congress.

It would result in 9,100 patients losing access to medication-assisted treatment (MAT) and thousands more being put on waitlists or being turned away for other services, the authors of the letter said. Additionally, they predict 3,000 clinicians would be laid off.

The chances of the demonstration being extended are good: Since March 31, 2019, Congress has acted to extend the program six times.

On top of that, the Trump administration and voters have voiced bipartisan support for CCBHCs.

President Trump’s recently released budget proposal for fiscal year 2021 includes $906 million to extend and expand the CCBHC Medicaid program. It also allots another $225 million for CCBHC expansion grants, which allow providers in non-demonstration states to receive two years worth of capped grant funding to develop CCBHC models of their own.

Meanwhile, 82% of voters support increasing federal funding for mental health and addiction treatment, according to polling data released by the National Council in conjunction with the letter to Congress.

“Bipartisan congressional leadership has made this important progress possible and will continue to be essential if we are to achieve the long-term goal of extending CCBHCs nationwide,” National Council CEO Chuck Ingoglia said in a press release accompanying the letter.

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