On March 11th, 150 Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC) advocates, congressional staffers, and members of the press, as well as 3,500 people online, gathered in the Senate’s historic Kennedy Caucus Room to support the extension and expansion of the CCBHC demonstration. Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Roy Blunt (R-MO) kicked off the event, highlighting the critical need for action as the demonstration’s funding expires on May 22, 2020. This event was part of a two-day fly-in, where CCBHCs from around the country came to advocate for the Excellence in Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Expansion Act (S. 824/H.R. 1767), which would extend the program for two years and expand it to eleven additional states.
Other speakers at the briefing included:
- Kim Scorza, President/CEO, Seasons Center for Behavioral Health, Spencer, Iowa
- Kelly S. Rowe, Sheriff, Lubbock County Sheriff’s Department, Lubbock, Texas
- Stacy Cary, Certified Recovery Specialist, Centerstone, Indianapolis, Indiana
Ms. Scorza discussed her perspective as a social worker and the impact the CCBHC has made on her community: “This is the best model of care I have ever seen, and I’ve been in the field for 30 years.” In the last year of the demonstration, Ms. Scorza’s CCBHC, Seasons Center, has increased access to care, dramatically reduced visits to the emergency department, set up mobile crisis units, and established relationships with hospitals and law enforcement.
Sheriff Rowe partners with StarCare, a community mental health center in West Texas. His remarks highlighted how important that partnership has been for his county – allowing more people to receive the care they need, saving taxpayer dollars and law enforcement time, and zeroing recidivism for those given mental health care.
Ms. Cary discussed her personal relationship with being both a prior client and a current peer recovery specialist at Centerstone, a CCBHC in Indiana. She noted the importance of integrated care, as well as the key role peers play in the recovery process. “[The Excellence in Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Expansion Act] represents hope – for communities, for families, and for people like me,” said Ms. Cary.
CCBHCs are the gold standard of care – the National Council is committed to moving the bar from the current 113 CCBHCs to 500 across all 50 states by 2025. As Senator Blunt said at the briefing, “Nearly one in five Americans suffer from a mental or behavioral health issue that is diagnosable and almost always treatable, but only a fraction receive the care they need… Given the demonstrated success of the Excellence program so far, now is the time to keep building on the progress that’s been made by extending and expanding funding for CCBHCs.”