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Blunt Pushes for Passage of Bipartisan Excellence in Mental Health Act

March 11, 2020

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senators Roy Blunt (Mo.) and Debbie Stabenow (Mich.) joined the National Council for Behavioral Health to push for the passage of their bipartisan bill, the Excellence in Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Expansion Act, which renews and expands funding for Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHCs).
CCBHCs were established in the Excellence in Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Act, which was introduced by Blunt and Stabenow and signed into law in 2014. Funding for these clinics, which are required to provide a comprehensive set of mental health and addiction services, is set to run out starting on May 22. Missouri is one of eight states participating in the Excellence program.
As Blunt discussed at the press conference, a new report released by the National Council for Behavioral Health found that CCBHC patients reported around a 62% reduction in both hospitalization and emergency room visits, and 78% of CCBHCs can offer an appointment within a week or less. Blunt shared examples of how the Excellence program in Missouri is aiding law enforcement and helping people get mental health and addiction services faster and closer to home.
Following are Excerpts of  Blunt’s Remarks:
“As Senator Stabenow mentioned, one in five adult Americans, according to NIH, has a diagnosable and almost always treatable behavioral health issue. Only about half of the people in that diagnosable group get diagnosed, and if you don’t get diagnosed, you don’t get treated. …
“The jail has become the mental health treatment facility, certainly, without any question, for the better part of 50 years, the emergency room and law enforcement personnel have been the mental health delivery system for the country. Nobody benefits from that. The emergency room doesn’t benefit from that, law enforcement doesn’t benefit from that, the people they’re trying to help don’t benefit from that. And this pilot that we want to expand to all 19 states that went through the whole process to try to do it.
“And as Senator Stabenow mentioned, we worked together to make sure that individual organizations within a state that wasn’t one of those 19 states could step up later, and that’s happened and they have joined this effort. …
“My view of this has always been that this is not necessarily a permanent federal obligation if we do our job the way I think you’re doing this job, that you can show such a reduction in all other costs. The other healthcare costs for the other 20% of the population that has a diagnosable behavioral health issue have to be better if you’re showing up for your appointments, you’re taking your medicine, you’re seeing your doctor, you’re eating better, you’re sleeping better, all that has to be better, we don’t even have to get in to what’s happened in jails and what’s happened in emergency rooms. …
“Seventy-eight percent of the CCBHSs offer a follow up appointment, in our state at least, in one week or less, I think that’s maybe in the whole country now. I think in Missouri, I can safely say, anybody that needs to be seen the day they show up now is seen the day they show up. The emergency visit used to be eight days later. ‘We’ll get to you as quickly as we can, and that’ll be a week from tomorrow.’ But we’re not doing a week from tomorrow anymore because of this program. …
“The Swope Community Health Center in Kansas City, somebody, who now easily has access to their mental health help, was driving 250 miles round trip to have their appointment. It doesn’t take much to discourage you from making that 250 mile drive.
“The Family Guidance Center in St. Joseph created a full time position at the jail to begin to work with people who probably should have been in mental health court and be somewhere besides the jail anyway, but that’s where they are.”

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