Excellence in Mental Health Act and Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics

2016 is going to be a big year for Behavioral Health, thanks to The Excellence in Mental Health Act (ExAct) passed in 2014. The ExAct is a crucial step towards taking Behavioral healthcare off the back burner and sparking an important discussions on mental health. According to the National Council for Behavioral Health the program will “increase Americans’ access to community mental health and substance use treatment services while improving Medicaid reimbursement for these services.” The program has allocated over $1 billion to help protect and enhance community based mental health programs, which is the largest federal investment in behavioral health services in a very long time. Let’s take a look at the progress the Excellence in Mental Health Act has already made and what might be in store for 2016.

Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics

The Excellence in Mental Health Act has created and authorized a two phase Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHC) Demonstration Program. What are Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics? According to the National Council For Behavioral Health (NCBH) CCBHCs be defined as “entities designed to serve individuals with serious mental illnesses and substance use disorders that provide intensive, person-centered, multidisciplinary, evidence-based screening, assessment, diagnostics, treatment, prevention, and wellness services.” This criteria addresses the wide variation in services by behavioral health organizations and the scope and scale of Medicaid plans across different states. This criteria hopes to organization and unify the lack of common data sets for behavioral health organizations. CCBHCs will have to provide these services as defined by the NCBH:

  • Crisis mental health services, including 24-mobile crisis teams, emergency crisis intervention services, and crisis stabilization
  • Screening, assessment, and diagnosis, including risk management
  • Patient-centered treatment planning
  • Outpatient mental health and substance use services
  • Primary care screening and monitoring
  • Targeted case management
  • Psychiatric rehabilitation services
  • Peer support and counselor serves and family support
  • Services for members of the armed forces and veterans
  • Connections with other providers and systems

The Planning Grant Phase took place over the last few months of 2015 and included the grant application process and the announcement of the 24 states who would each be receiving a $2 million grant. According the NCBH “the one-year planning grant funds can be used to support states as they determine how CCBHCs best fit within current system redesign efforts.  States can leverage this opportunity plan and implement other delivery and payment reform efforts.”

What’s in Store for 2016?

8 states will be chosen to take place in the CCBHC demonstration. The vision for these clinics will be for states to improve public health by improving and providing better community based mental health and substance use treatment. The end goal is to integrate behavioral health fully with physical health care.

October 23, 2016: Deadline for states to submit their applications to participate in the demonstration. The demonstration program includes provisions that will provide CCBHCs with the financial footing to deliver these required services.

January, 2017: Deadline for the Secretary to select the states that will participate in the demonstration program. Only states that have received a planning grant are eligible to participate. The states will be selected through a competitive application process and must represent a diverse selection of geographic areas, including rural and under-served areas. (via NCBH)

You can learn more about what it takes to be a CCBHC here.