Senators Offer Plan To Improve Mental Health Coverage

The bipartisan group's plan would require community behavioral health centers to provide substance abuse treatment and 24-hour crisis care. In return, the centers could bill Medicaid for the services.

The Washington Post: Measure Would Strengthen Mental Health Care System
A bipartisan group of senators, citing renewed urgency after the shooting massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, introduced legislation Thursday aimed at strengthening the nation's fragmented mental health-care system and improving access at the community level. The bill would put in place standards for about 2,000 "federally qualified" community behavioral health centers, requiring them to provide such services as substance abuse treatment and 24-hour crisis care. In return, facilities meeting criteria would be able to bill Medicaid for their services -- a change intended to open the door to treatment for many more people and one that is estimated to cost about $1 billion over the next decade (Dennis and Kane, 2/7).

St. Louis Beacon: Silver Lining: Would Better Mental Health Services Help Lessen Gun Violence?
The bipartisan Excellence in Mental Health Act, whose main sponsors are U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and Blunt, R-Mo., aims to boost mental health centers to a more equal footing with other health centers, mainly by improving their quality standards and expanding access to people who need the care (Koenig, 2/7).

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