Members of Congress wrote and President Trump signed a $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill last week. Within this bill is an increase in funding for mental health and substance use programs.
Among the notable funding is an additional $100 million to support the Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic program, which CPC Behavioral Healthcare is currently participating.
The Mental Health Block Grant saw a nearly 30% increase from 2017 funding for $701.5 million total and the Substance Abuse and Prevention and Treatment Block Grant was increased $3.4 million to $1.858 billion. These block grants provide funding throughout the United States for agencies like CPC to provide prevention and treatment services for individuals with mental health and substance use disorders.
This budget also includes an increase of $5 million for a total near $20 million for Mental Health First Aid. This important program, supported by the National Council for Behavioral Health seeks to teach emergency services personnel, police officers, teachers, primary care professionals, students and others how to identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illness and substance use disorders (1).
There is also funding in the budget for opioid programs. Opioid State Target Response Grants are responsible for several new prevention and intervention programs throughout New Jersey. The aim is to address the opioid crisis by increasing access to treatment, reducing unmet treatment need, and reducing opioid overdose-related deaths. Funding for these grants was doubled to a total of $1 billion.
National Institutes of Health (NIH) saw an increase in funding of $3 billion, which includes $500 million to research opioid addiction and non-opioid alternative pain management methods and treatments.
While veteran advocacy groups were disappointed by some funding left out of the bill, there was a positive note with the inclusion of funding for mental health services for veterans with other than honorable discharges, or so called "bad papers" dismissals. John Rowan, president of Vietnam Veterans of America said, “This provision of the omnibus will help veterans from the Vietnam war, to the current forever wars and future conflicts, and save so many of the untold lives of countless forgotten heroes”(2). This was part of $580 million increase in Department of Veterans Affairs' Mental Health Services and Programs (3).
While there is still much to be done, CPC is grateful to the men and women in Congress on both sides of the aisle for their part in this step forward.
Additional information about the budget provided by the National Council for Behavioral Health is below (4):
MENTAL HEALTH & ADDICTION TREATMENT AND EDUCATION
Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHCs): Includes $100 million in new funding to support the ongoing Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic program active in eight states. This new program, spearheaded by National Council members, is dramatically expanding access to comprehensive and evidence-based mental health and addiction care.
Primary and Behavioral Health Care Integration and Technical Assistance Center: $49.877 million, level funding compared to last year. The President’s budget proposed eliminating the program. The technical assistance center that supports integration grantees receives level funding at $1.991 million.
Mental Health First Aid: $19.963 million, an increase of 5 million over 2017 funding level.
Mental Health Block Grant: $701.5 million, an increase of $160 million over FY 2017 and $301.5 million more than requested in President Trump’s FY 2018 budget.
Substance Abuse and Prevention and Treatment Block Grant: $1.858 billion, which is $3.4 million more than last year’s funding.
Opioid State Target Response Grants (Opioid STR): The second year of funding for this 21st Century Cures program is doubled from $500 million to $1 billion.
Rural Communities Opioids Response: The agreement provides $130 million for a new Rural Communities Opioids Response program to support treatment for and prevention of substance use disorder, with a focus on the unique needs of rural counties including workforce development.
Opioid Addiction and Pain Management: Includes $500 million for NIH to research opioid addiction and non-opioid alternative pain management methods and treatments.
Synthetic Opioid Trafficking: Provides $94 million for the FDA to expand its efforts to crack down on shipments of synthetic opioids at international mail facilities.
Opioid Use Surveillance and Public Health Monitoring: $476 million to support increased CDC opioid overdose surveillance and prevention activities at the national, state, and local level.
BEHAVIORAL HEALTH WORKFORCE/JUSTICE PROGRAMS
National Health Service Corps (NHSC): Expands eligibility for loan repayment awards through the NHSC to include substance use disorder counselors to support the support recruitment and retention of addiction health professionals in underserved areas.
Medicare-Eligible Behavioral Health Providers: While the agreement makes no substantive policy changes in this area, the bill acknowledges the lack of mental health and addiction treatment professionals eligible to serve Medicare beneficiaries. This statement provides acknowledgment of a problem that would be addressed through the passage of the Mental Health Access Improvement Act, a longstanding priority of the National Council.
Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act (MIOTCRA): $30 million for MIOTCRA programs such as mental health courts, substance use courts and veterans’ courts, up from $12 million in FY 2017.