CCBHCs Are Transforming Opioid Addiction Treatment Access

Despite the surging opioid crisis, only one in ten Americans with an addiction disorder receives treatment in any given year. Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHCs) were enacted in 2014 to fill the gaps in unmet need for addiction and mental health care and expand access to comprehensive, community-based treatment. Early results from the two-year program demonstrate how CCBHCs are dramatically improving access to opioid and other addiction care.

Due to the passage of the Excellence in Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Act, sixty-six CCBHCs launched in eight states (MN, MO, NV, NJ, NY, OK, OR, PA) in starting in 2017. In April 2018, the National Council for Mental Wellbeing surveyed CCBHCs about how the model has impacted their addiction service array, quality, delivery and workforce. Survey highlights include:

  • One-hundred percent of CCBHCs have integrated mental health/addiction care by leveraging their payment rate to support staff hiring, training, care coordination and/or establishing referral relationships with external providers.
  • One-hundred percent of CCBHCs report leveraging their CCBHC status to expand the scope of their addiction treatment services. For many, these activities represent the first time such services have been available in their communities.
  • In the first year of the program, CCBHCs have hired nearly 400 new staff with an addiction specialty or focus—an average of 8.3 addiction clinicians per organization. 90 percent of CCBHCs report having a psychiatrist(s) on staff with an addiction specialty or focus. For many CCBHCs, this is the first time they have been able to hire an addiction-specialty physician.
  • The CCBHC model has spurred near-universal adoption of medication-assisted treatment and 92 percent of CCBHCs offer at least one type of FDA-approved medication-assisted treatment, either on-site or via referral to an outside program. CCBHC status has also helped clinics expand access to medication-assisted treatment (MAT) via expanded training and hiring: 92 percent of CCBHCs have trained or hired clinicians who can prescribe buprenorphine, a medication utilized in MAT.
  • Nearly all CCBHCs (94 percent) have increased the number of patients they serve with addiction, either by taking on new patients, improving screening protocols to newly identify addiction among existing patients or both. Even with patient increases, 68 percent of clinics have seen a decrease in patient wait times and 30 percent of clinics have maintained steady wait times. After an initial call or referral, 78 percent of CCBHCs can offer an appointment within a week or less.

The CCBHC model advances addiction care by establishing a sound fiscal footing for certified clinics, reimbursing them for the full range of required addiction services and enabling them to expand service lines and patient caseloads to begin to address the unmet need in their communities. Unfortunately, under current law, the demonstration is limited to eight states over just two years and the two-year timeframe means that current participants will see their progress in expanding access to addiction and mental health care stripped away when the program ends. Additional congressional action is needed to authorize an extension of the scope and length of the initiative. The National Council urges Congress to take quick action to extend the life of this critical program. To urge your representatives in Congress to expand the CCBHC program, click here.

Guest Author

Katiri Zuluaga
State Initiatives