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Blunt Commends HHS for Making Additional COVID-19 Relief Funding Available for Mental Health and Addiction Treatment

Blunt Has Led Efforts in the Senate to Make Behavioral Health a Priority in the COVID-19 Response

October 05, 2020

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (Mo.), Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies (Labor/HHS), welcomed the Department of Health and Human Services' announcement that it is making an additional $20 billion in COVID-19 relief available for hospitals and health care providers, and expanding eligibility to more behavioral health providers that are treating mental health and addiction. Providers can begin applying for funds today.    

“The COVID-19 pandemic has given rise to a mental health crisis that is putting millions of lives at risk,” said Blunt. “Depressive disorders are four times higher than they were at the same time last year, drug overdose deaths have risen an average of 13%, and calls to the national suicide hotline have skyrocketed. We have to make sure people who are suffering from a mental health or addiction issue are able to get the help they need. I have encouraged the Department of Health and Human Services to make behavioral health funding a priority and appreciate the action they’re taking to make more resources available to providers.”     

HHS’ announcement marks the third phase of general distribution funding allocated through the Provider Relief Fund. Blunt previously announced that Missouri received $618.6 million and $175 million in earlier rounds of funding.  

In addition to supporting a total of $175 billion for the Provider Relief Fund, Blunt has, in his role as Labor/HHS chairman, worked to dedicate resources specifically for mental health and addiction treatment. In May 2020, Blunt spoke on the Senate floor to raise awareness around the mental health and addiction challenges associated with the pandemic. As Blunt noted, the CARES Act, which was signed into law in March, included $425 million for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, including $250 million for Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHCs); $50 million for suicide prevention; and $100 million in emergency response grants to address mental and substance use disorders. In April, Blunt announced that five Missouri CCBHCs had received $14 million in funding through the CARES Act.

The CARES Act also expanded and extended funding for the Excellence in Mental Health program that Blunt and U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (Mich.) created in 2014. The Excellence in Mental Health Act established CCBHCs, which provide a wide range of services, including 24/7/365 crisis services, immediate screenings, risk assessments, and diagnoses. There are currently 10 states participating in the Excellence in Mental Health demonstration program, including Missouri.

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