This Friday, September 13, 2019, funding for certified community behavioral health clinics (CCBHCs) will expire unless Congress extends funding. These clinics provide vital evidence-based services, including 24-hour crisis care, managed detox, medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for substance use disorder (SUD), and care coordination with physical health care services. If funding expires, people are at risk of losing access to these services, which have played a vital role in addressing both the opioid and mental health epidemics, particularly in rural areas, medically-underserved areas, and states that have not expanded Medicaid. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) estimated that over 67 clinics serve more than 380,000 people at 372 locations across the country. In anticipation of losing funding, clinics have considered cost-saving measures, such as imposing operating hours, reducing staff, or limiting the number of services offered.
Just before Congress adjourned for August recess, the House passed a bill to extend funding for two years and expand the number of states receiving funding; however, the Senate failed to authorize this long-term extension. Instead, the Senate passed a short-term extension set to expire on September 13th. The House then approved the Senate’s short-term funding extension by unanimous consent but the House Energy and Commerce Chairman, Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), released a statement saying that the Committee urges “the Senate to pass a longer extension of the CCBHC demonstration program that provides guaranteed funding for the health centers on the frontlines of responding to the opioid epidemic. We cannot afford to keep kicking the can down the road in the midst of an epidemic.”