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Bipartisan lawmakers seek to extend CCBHCs

October 4, 2017
by Julie Miller, Editor in Chief
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On Tuesday, a bipartisan group of lawmakers in both chambers reintroduced a bill to extend the federal demonstration project for Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHCs). The current demo is rolling out in phases, with eight states participating in the two-year practical implementation phase.

“The bill would add another year to the demonstration and allow another 11 states to participate,” Chuck Ingoglia, senior vice president, public policy and practice improvement for the National Council for Behavioral Health, tells Behavioral Healthcare Executive.

Co-sponsored by Sens. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), and Reps. Leonard Lance (R-N.J.) and Doris Matsui (D-Calif.), the bill wouldn’t relaunch the demo from scratch, but rather, it would provide the opportunity for the 11 states that completed the initial planning phase to move forward with their implementation strategies. Ingoglia says opening up the demo will create more options for the CCBHC model, which could be implemented widely, even after the project is over.

“There are baseline criteria, but everybody does it a little bit differently,” he says.

Within the CCBHC model, providers use a prospective payment system and have flexibility in how they allocate funds. For example, one provider involved in the demonstration was already able to hire a child psychiatrist for the first time in 15 years.

“They’re starting new programs and hiring more staff,” Ingoglia says. “And that’s one of the goals: to increase access to care.”

Linda Rosenberg, president and CEO of National Council, says CCBHC are working to create comprehensive standards for care delivery and sustainable payment rates that are based on the actual costs of care—something stakeholders have long been asking for. Services include care for mental health and addiction disorders and must meet quality measures.

Stabenow spoke at the kick off for the National Council’s Hill Day effort on Tuesday and encouraged providers and advocates to push additional legislators to sign on to the House and Senate bills to extend CCBHCs.

“This is truly a bipartisan effort,” Stabenow said at the event.

Stabenow and Blunt first introduced the Excellence in Mental Health Act in February 2013, and it was signed by President Barack Obama in 2014. Under the program, providers who qualify as CCBHCs implement evidence-based practices under a prospective payment system that allows flexibility in how funds are spent. Practical implementation began in July, and a CCBHC progress report is expected in December.