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Extension of “Excellence in Mental Health” Demonstration Program is Good News for PA

July 31, 2019

Congress passed a short-term extension of a critical behavioral health demonstration program, targeted at expanding access to mental health and addiction care in community-based settings. Eight pilot states, including Pennsylvania, are impacted.

The Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC) program, also known as the Excellence Act, provides enhanced resources through Medicaid to expand access to a comprehensive range of addiction and mental health services to vulnerable individuals. The program had expired last month.

The short-term extension continues the program through September 13, and will allow time for Congressional leaders to reach consensus on a longer-term extension of the pilot in the original participating states. Consideration will be given to expanding the program to additional states.

The U.S. House passed legislation last month, H.R. 3253, that would extend the program through 2021; the Senate amended the bill to include the shorter extension.

In March, a bipartisan, bicameral group of federal lawmakers introduced the Excellence in Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Expansion Act—legislation that would extend and expand the CCBHC initiative. That legislation would extend the initiative in the original eight participating states by two years and expand the program to 11 others states for two years.

CCBHCs provide a comprehensive range of primary physical care, addiction, and mental health services to vulnerable individuals, adults, and children with serious mental illnesses and substance abuse disorders, in one location—removing barriers that often exist across physical and behavioral health systems.

CCBHCs are responsible for providing or partnering with a variety of health system entities to direct services including:

  • Crisis mental health services
  • Screening, assessment, and diagnosis including risk assessment
  • Patient-centered treatment planning or similar processes
  • Outpatient mental health and substance use services
  • Outpatient clinic primary care screening and monitoring of key health indicators
  • Targeted case management
  • Psychiatric rehabilitation services
  • Peer support, counselor services, and family supports
  • Intensive, community-based mental health care for members of the armed forces and veterans, particularly those members and veterans located in rural areas

The CCBHC program first was established under the Excellence in Mental Health Act during 2014. During December 2016, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration announced the selection of the eight participating states: Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon and Pennsylvania.

The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services selected seven sites:

  • Berks Counseling Center, Berks County
  • Cen Clear Child Services, Clearfield County
  • Cen Clear Child Services, Jefferson County
  • Northeast Treatment Centers, Philadelphia County
  • Pittsburgh Mercy, Allegheny County
  • Resources for Human Development, Montgomery County
  • The Guidance Center, McKean County

HAP supports the CCBHC model as an avenue to increase access to effective mental health and substance abuse services and better integrate behavioral and physical health care services. The association continues to support efforts to extend the demonstration program in Pennsylvania.

To learn more about HAP’s advocacy strategy regarding this issue, please contact Jennifer Jordan, HAP’s vice president, regulatory advocacy.

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