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Calif., Other States Nab $22.9M for Community Mental Health Clinics

The Obama administration has announced it will award $22.9 million in planning grants to 24 states, including California, to launch a trial program for community mental health clinics, The Hill reports.

States can use the grant money to prepare applications for a two-year trial program for clinics under bipartisan legislation signed into law last year. During the second round of the program, eight states in 2017 will receive funding for clinics that will operate in compliance with the law's standards (Sullivan, The Hill, 10/20).

The Excellence in Mental Health Act set service standards for about 2,000 federally qualified community behavioral health centers. The standards established under the law require such centers to offer a range of services, including 24-hour crisis care, support for families of individuals with mental health issues and increased integration of mental health and substance use disorder treatment. Facilities that meet the criteria can bill Medicaid for their services, similar to the Medicaid reimbursement system used by federally qualified health centers (California Healthline, 2/8/13).

California will receive $982,373 (HHS release, 10/19).

Comments

The National Council for Behavioral Health applauded the grants and expressed hope that the program would bolster mental health services. NCBH President and CEO Linda Rosenberg in a statement said, "We're very excited that we can see the day when adults and children with serious mental illnesses and substance use disorders will be able to walk into a clinic and not only get immediate help, but that their behavioral and physical health care needs will be coordinated."

Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), who had sponsored the legislation, said she hopes the program will help to improve mental health care across the country. She called the program a "phase-in to comprehensive community mental health care" but added, "What we should be doing is providing the resources to make this a national behavior health clinic model" (The Hill, 10/20).

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