NYC First Lady And Others Praise Excellence In Mental Health And Addiction Treatment Expansion Act

The Cities Thrive Mental Health Coalition stood with Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO), Congresswoman Doris Matsui (D-CA), and Congressman Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) today as they reintroduced the Excellence in Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Expansion Act. The Excellence Act would extend and expand upon the current eight state Medicaid demonstration, which provides enhanced payment rates for CCBHCs to provide increased access to community mental health and addiction services.

“The painful reality is that all across the country, too many people are in crisis – grappling with the inadequacy of mental health and addiction services,” said First Lady of New York City, Chirlane McCray, Founder of the Cities Thrive Coalition. “The Excellence Act has helped equip communities in eight states – including New York – to begin turning the tide on this crisis, and get more people the community-based treatments and supports they need. We urge Congress to quickly pass this legislation. Lives depend on it.”

Originally authorized under the Protecting Access to Medicare Act of 2014, this two-year pilot has been remarkably successful in expanding access to community behavioral health services across the United States.

Originally authorized under the Protecting Access to Medicare Act of 2014, this two-year pilot has been remarkably successful in expanding access to community behavioral health services across the United States. According to the National Council for Behavioral Health, this demonstration has allowed CCBHCs to:

  • Increase access to mental health and addiction treatment
  • Expand capacity to address the opioid crisis
  • Collaborate with partners in hospitals, jails, prisons and schools

If no action is taken to extend this demonstration, CCBHCs face a crisis on March 31 (Oregon and Oklahoma) and June 30 (New York, New Jersey, Nevada, Missouri, Minnesota, and Pennsylvania). This would result in program closures, an estimated 3,009 staff layoffs, and 9,100 patients losing access to Medication Assisted Treatment for substance use disorders.

“Addressing the needs of our citizens struggling with mental health and addiction is an important component of our criminal justice reform efforts – and the right thing to do. The CCBHC demonstration program has enabled our partners, Red Rock, and NorthCare, to serve thousands of Oklahoma City adults and children with mental health and substance abuse treatment needs. We thank Rep. Mullin for co-sponsoring the legislation and encourage the rest of our delegation to support this important effort.” said Mayor David Holt of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

“The Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics set the standard for integrated behavioral health care services in our community. Through this model, we provide people with significant behavioral health challenges a treatment path to help them escape homelessness, our crisis triage centers, and jails, and an opportunity to flourish in our community,” said Mayor Ted Wheeler of Portland, Oregon.

“We must continue to focus on mental health and addiction issues,” said Mayor Eileen Weir of Independence, Missouri. “Allowing the CCBHC demonstration program to lapse would be a major step backward for all of us as we continue to seek ways to address the ongoing opioid epidemic across the country.”

“There should be no barriers between those in need and providers willing to help,” said Mayor Hillary Schieve of Reno, Nevada. “These vital programs are the definition of good government–allowing compassionate experts direct access to those desperate for help. We must support mental health with every resource available.”

“Without the support of Congress, Minnesota could lose the CCBHC demonstration pilot which has expanded access and reduced recidivism in our state. I’m deeply appreciative of Senators Stabenow and Blunt and Representatives Matsui and Mullin for their authorship of extending and expanding this important program,” said Mayor Kim Norton of Rochester, Minnesota.

“As state disinvestment in mental health services closed psychiatric beds in Oregon, it was local government that shouldered the burden, too often meaning that we were trying to provide services for our mentally ill neighbors on the streets and in homeless camps. The Federal Government’s willingness to engage this critical issue via the Excellence in Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Expansion Act should be applauded” said Mayor Shane Bemis of Gresham, Oregon. “It is necessary, extremely timely, justly compassionate and would make a big difference at the local level.”

“The Excellence Act has enabled our local CCBHC, Family Guidance Center, to serve 14 percent more people in need. Additional staffing has made this possible,”

“The Excellence Act has enabled our local CCBHC, Family Guidance Center, to serve 14 percent more people in need. Additional staffing has made this possible,” said Mayor Bill McMurray of St. Joseph, Missouri. “Our local police department now has a full-time Master’s degree social worker to assist with EDP calls. Our clinic has added another psychiatrist. Mental health professionals have been added at both the Law Enforcement Center and the Medical Center ER. Citizens have been helped to stay out of jail, to stay out of the hospital, and to lead healthier lives, thanks to the funding provided by the Excellence Act. Please reauthorize this critical investment that is saving so many lives here in Northwest Missouri!”

“In Jersey City, we have challenged the status quo, and our Health and Human Services Department now leads New Jersey on nearly every single progressive health initiative – behavioral health being one of them,” said Mayor Steven M. Fulop of Jersey City, New Jersey. “We have seen firsthand how the importance of understanding mental health and Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHCs) have been a critical tool in helping us expand services across New Jersey. I commend the bipartisan commitment from Senators Stabenow and Blunt and Congress members Matsui and Mullin for re-introducing the Excellence Act – I hope the Congress expeditiously passes this legislation so our CCBHCs can continue their life-saving work across the country.”

“As an elected official it is our duty to carry out what our United States Constitution intended the freedoms of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Access to mental health care for all impacts the quality of life for everyone,” said Mayor Carol Westfall of Klamath Falls, Oregon. “I am happy to support the Excellence in Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Expansion Act to ensure our Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics have the resources to continue providing life-saving, community-based mental health services across the state of Oregon.”

In February, the Cities Thrive Coalition sent a letter signed by 35 bipartisan Mayors, to congressional leadership calling on Congress to pass and for the President to sign the Excellence Act into law.

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