From National Council for Wellbeing:

The Senate last night passed the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, critical legislation to dramatically increase funding for mental health programs and reduce the threat and incidence of violence in America.

Introduced by Sens. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas), the bill provides funding to increase access to mental health and substance use services, notably through expanding Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHCs) nationwide. This will connect considerably more people to lifesaving care, while helping support and grow the mental health and substance use treatment workforce.

The bill also includes aid to broaden access to telehealth services and mental health awareness programs, such as Mental Health First Aid (MHFA), and provides additional funding for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline ahead of next month’s 988 implementation, which will help save lives and provide needed support to strengthen the capacity of our crisis care system.

Given the speed the bill is moving, we want to provide you with our initial analysis of the bill and its potential impact.

It’s also important to note that while many components of the bill have a heavy focus on expanding access to mental health and substance use treatment, this bill is primarily being framed by lawmakers and the media as an effort to reduce mass incidents of violence. While we support the transformational potential of this bill to expand access to care, we are mindful of the need not to perpetuate any false narratives that encourage stigmatization of the millions of people living with mental health conditions who are more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators of it.

Key provisions include:

  • Expanding the CCBHC program to allow any state or territory the opportunity to apply to participate in the demonstration and allocating additional planning grant monies for states to develop proposals to participate.
    • Starting in July 2024, and every two years thereafter, 10 additional states will be selected to join the demonstration.
    • The eight original demonstration sites will be extended until September 2025, and the two newer demo states (Kentucky and Michigan) are extended to six years after their program launch
  • $250 million for the Community Mental Health Services Block Grant.
  • $120 million in additional funding for mental health awareness training programs
  • $150 million in additional funding for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline for FY 2022
  • New requirements for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to provide guidance to states on how they can increase access to care via telehealth under Medicaid and CHIP, including strategies related to training and providing resources for providers and patients.

Please reference our initial bill analysis for a more detailed breakdown, as well as our statement of support.

We applaud this bipartisan effort and encourage the House to pass it as swiftly as possible.

Questions? Contact us!