Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHCs) have been shown to reduce behavioral health access gaps and improve outcomes for patients, especially those who are under- and uninsured.
However, only a select few states are allowed to participate in the CCBHC Medicaid demonstration. But now, advocates are hoping President Joe Biden’s $3.5 trillion budget proposal could change that, with lawmakers such as Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., pushing for the inclusion of a widespread CCBHC expansion.
“I’m advocating that this be part of any health care package that moves in the Senate,” Stabenow recently told the Associated Press. Stabenow and Blunt are “considered legislative godparents of the clinics,” the publication reported.
The CCBHC program was created back in 2014 as a Medicaid demonstration, which has been extended for select states through September 2023. Clinics in the demonstration receive higher Medicaid reimbursements in exchange for offering comprehensive care services to individuals with complex needs. Some of those services include 24-hour crisis care, as well as comprehensive outpatient mental health and SUD treatment.
Despite the positive outcomes CCBHCs generate, only 10 states have been chosen to participate in the demonstration. Meanwhile, if behavioral health providers in other states are interested in becoming CCBHCs, they have to apply for special grants from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to do so, with the main difference in grant funding being that the money is capped and runs out after a certain amount of time.
Currently, there are 431 CCBHCs across 42 states, Washington, DC and Guam, according to the National Council for Mental Wellbeing, which has long advocated for the expansion of the CCBHC program.
“Their resounding success both before and during the COVID-19 pandemic prove that no matter what, CCBHCs rise to meet the needs of their communities,” National Council President and CEO Chuck Ingoglia said in a statement following the introduction of a bill earlier this year to allow every state to join the CCBHC Medicaid demonstration. “But far too many Americans still live in communities without a CCBHC, making it critical for Congress to expand this important program. We need swift action to combat the rise in reported mental health conditions, overdose deaths and a shrinking mental health workforce, and CCBHCs are proving to be our best solution.”
The AP reported that the expansion of the CCBHC demonstration would cost about $3 billion. Only time will tell if it makes its way into President Biden’s $3.5 trillion budget bill, which the Senate recently passed and the House is due to take up when it returns from summer break on Aug. 23.