In the News: Community mental health, addiction services would be expanded under Blunt, Lance bill
A program originally established by U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) and U.S. Rep. Leonard Lance (R-NJ) to enhance community mental and behavioral health services would be expanded and extended under legislation announced on Oct. 3.
Eight states were granted funding as part of a pilot program under the Excellence in Mental Health Act, which was signed into law in 2014, in order to provide community behavioral health and addiction services through mental health centers, Veterans Health Administration clinics, federally qualified health centers and additional mental health organizations. Under the new bill, the Excellence in Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Expansion Act, S. 1905/H.R. 3931, funding in the original eight states would be extended for a year, and funding also would be made available to 11 additional states.
“I’m proud that Missouri, as a participant in the Excellence in Mental Health Act pilot program, is leading the nation in developing strategies to improve and expand access to mental and behavioral treatment,” Blunt said. “This bill will allow all states in the pilot program to continue the important work that’s underway, and enable more states to join the effort. I urge my colleagues to support this bipartisan bill, and help get us closer to our goal of treating mental health like all other health in this country.”
The Excellence in Mental Health Act pilot program aims to improve community mental and behavioral health by setting high-quality standards and offering additional services like 24-hour psychiatric crisis care, counseling and integrated services.
“The Excellence in Mental Health Act is working by improving coordination and services offered to those most in need,” Lance said. “New Jersey is one of the original states selected for increased funding for comprehensive mental health services and this bill makes sure we maintain the improved programming. States that come forward with a plan to improve mental health care need to have a strong federal partner thanks to this bicameral, bipartisan legislation.”
The bill, which Blunt and Lance introduced with bipartisan support from U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and U.S. Rep. Doris Matsui (D-CA), has garnered support from more than 50 mental health organizations, including the National Council for Behavioral Health.
“With rising rates of overdoses and suicides, the Excellence in Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Expansion Act offers lifesaving mental health and addictions services that people can count on,” Linda Rosenberg, the president and CEO of the National Council for Behavioral Health, said. “We thank Senators Debbie Stabenow and Roy Blunt and Representatives Leonard Lance and Doris Matsui for once again demonstrating their leadership and ongoing commitment to science-based community treatment.”