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In 2014 Feds Created Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHCs), And In 2016 Announced A 2-Year Pilot Program At Key Sites Like Syracuse’s Helio Health To Boost Addiction Treatment & Mental Health Services; More Than 6,500 CNY Residents Have Been Treated So Far With Comprehensive Opioid Recovery And Mental Health Services 

With Helio’s CCBHC Funding Set To Expire This June, Schumer Launches Major Push To Pass The Recently-Introduced Excellence In Mental Health And Addiction Treatment Expansion Act, Which Would Fund CCBHC’s For The Extended Future

Schumer: Helio Health’s CCBHC Must Be Extended So It Can Continue To Provide Life-Changing And Life-Saving Addiction & Mental Health Services In CNY

Standing at Helio Health’s Child and Adolescent Center, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today launched a major push to pass the recently-introduced Excellence in Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Expansion Act. This bipartisan legislation, introduced in the Senate by Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Roy Blunt (R-MO) and cosponsored by Senator Schumer, would extend funding for the Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHCs) pilot program, which authorizes the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to provide enhanced payments through Medicaid to hospitals and health care providers in 8 states, including New York, to offer comprehensive opioid addiction and mental health care services to thousands of adults and children per year. Schumer explained that Helio is home to one of these CCBHC’s, and that the pilot program has allowed the agency to put a real dent in the shortage of opioid addiction and mental health services in Central New York by hiring additional staff, reducing treatment wait times, increasing medically assisted treatment and adding new services like its children and adolescent outpatient clinic and 24/7 walk in assessments. Schumer said that with Central New York still suffering from the scourge of the opioid crisis and lack of mental health services, and with funding for New York State’s CCBHC’s set to expire this June, Congress must pass the Excellence in Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Expansion Act as soon as possible, to ensure that the residents of Central New York and Syracuse have access to the addiction and mental health care services and treatment options that they need and deserve.

“In the midst of the opioid epidemic, which is ravaging our state and Central New York, in particular, ensuring that people have easy access to comprehensive addiction and mental health services and treatment options is of the utmost importance, which means extending the life-altering and life-saving CCBHC pilot program that has had tangible results for patients at Helio Health is absolutely paramount,” said Senator Schumer. “That’s why today, I’m calling on my colleagues in Congress to pass the Excellence in Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Expansion Act as soon as possible. Helio’s CCBHC has a proven track record of helping adults and children alike through their toughest times, and I’ll do everything I can to provide full funding for it in the future to ensure that Central New York residents have the addiction and mental health services they need and deserve.”

Schumer explained that the CCBHC program was established by the combination of the Excellence in Mental Health Act of 2014, which set the qualifications needed to be met for a medical facility to qualify as a CCBHC, and by the Protecting Access to Medicare Act, which established and funded the CCBHC pilot program under SAMHSA. In order to be designated as a CCBHC and receive the enhanced payments through SAMHSA, a medical facility must offer 24-hour-a-day crisis services, outpatient mental health and addiction services, non-stop risk assessment, screening and diagnosis, and the coordination and integration of health care services and treatment, including with hospitals, law enforcement and more. Currently, there are eight states signed on to the CCBHC pilot program including Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon and Pennsylvania, and 47 designated CCBHCs across the eight states. An additional 16 states have received grant funding under the program. New York State’s CCBHC pilot program funding is scheduled to run out at the end of this June, and if it is not extended, the state would stand to lose between $25-30 million per year.

Schumer explained that since starting up two years ago, Helio Health’s CCBHC has been successful in addressing the shortage of mental health and opioid treatment services in Central New York. Over the course of the last two years, the CCBHC program has allowed the Helio Health clinic to add 65 full-time staff and treat 6,504 walk-in patients. This expansion reduced local emergency room visits by 32.17% and inpatient admissions by 40.89%, delivering real, tangible results. For Central New York and Syracuse, one of the primary benefits of Helio’s CCBHC designation has been the expansion of the organization’s children and adolescent outpatient clinic, which has now served 615 total patients. Schumer said the shortage of pediatric mental health services is a long-standing problem in Central New York, and that Helio has used the CCBHC designation to address the gap.

Schumer added the Helio’s CCBHC designation has played a major role in combatting the opioid epidemic and reducing overdose deaths locally. The CCBHC funding allowed Helio to add medication assisted therapy within its ancillary withdrawal programs – a service provided to over 100 individuals, increase the number of physicians authorized to prescribe Medication Assisted Therapy at its Opiate Treatment Program – which serves over 400 patients, and eliminate wait times with 24/7 walk-in hours. Schumer noted that the establishment of Helio’s CCBHC pilot program, which started in 2017, coincides with the 36% drop in opioid overdose deaths that same year.

“New York is one of the eight states leading a bold shift in this country, transforming community services from a patchwork of underfunded and overburdened organizations into a thriving array of clinics that provide patient-centered treatment of addictions and mental illnesses. The Excellence in Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Expansion Act allows current innovation to continue for another two years, and expands the opportunity to additional states so that people struggling with opioid use disorders, other addictions or mental illnesses can get effective care,” said Linda Rosenberg president & CEO of the National Council for Behavioral Health. “The National Council appreciates Sen Schumer’s leadership and ongoing commitment to science-based community treatment.”

The 13 CCBHCs across New York have used the funds to make significant steps in addressing the opioid epidemic. Every center has trained more staff or community partners in naloxone administration, the opioid overdose reversal medication. Virtually every clinic has hired new staff or trained existing staff on specialized addiction treatment, and the centers have also hired peer recovery specialists to provide recovery support. The funding has also been used across New York to begin or expand a Medication-Assisted Treatment program, implement screening protocols for opioid use disorder and launch a multitude of opioid treatment and recovery initiatives.  

New York CCBHC’s also report the funds have expanded their capacity to provide crisis care, as well as improve outreach into the community, expand services to veterans, update new technologies to improve care coordination, as well as implement new care delivery or outreach programs with schools and the criminal justice system.

For these reasons, Schumer today called on his colleagues in Congress to pass the Excellence in Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Expansion Act as soon as possible. First, the legislation would expand the number of states participating in the CCBHC pilot program from 8 to 19. Second, the Excellence in Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Expansion Act would extend funding for the current CCBHC states for the next two years. Schumer argued that the CCBHC pilot program has proven itself as effective, and that considering Central New York’s current addiction and mental health service needs, it should be extended immediately.