03.25.19

SCHUMER: AS THE OPIOID EPIDEMIC CONTINUES TO PLAGUE THE ROCHESTER-FINGER LAKES REGION, FUNDING FOR LIFE-CHANGING OPIOID TREATMENT PROGRAM AT UNIVERSITY OF ROCHESTER MEDICAL CENTER IS SET TO EXPIRE IN JUNE, THREATENING SERVICES FOR THOUSANDS IN REGION; SCHUMER URGES CONGRESS TO IMMEDIATELY PASS LEGISLATION FUNDING CENTERS AND AVERT CRISIS

In 2014 Feds Created Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHCs), And In 2016 Announced A 2-Year Pilot Program At Key Sites Like University Of Rochester Medical Center (UCMC) To Boost Addiction Treatment & Mental Health Services; More Than 6,200 Rochester Residents Have Been Treated So Far With Comprehensive Opioid Recovery And Mental Health Services 

With URMC’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 Extend Funding For CCBHC’s 

Schumer: URMC’s CCBHC Program Must Be Extended So It Can Continue To Provide Life-Changing And Life-Saving Addiction & Mental Health Services In Rochester-Finger Lakes Region

Standing at the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC), 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. Schumer explained that URMC is the only hospital in New York State that is home to one of these CCBHC’s, and that the pilot program has saved New York State millions of dollars, while at the same time allowing the hospital to greatly expand mental health and addiction treatment services, hire additional staff, reduce treatment wait-times, add 24-hour mobile crisis teams, and boost Medication Assisted Opiate Treatment Programs from 125 to 500 patients, which has culminated in the overall treatment of over 6,200 adult and children patients so far over the 2-year pilot program period. Schumer said that with the Rochester-Finger Lakes Region still suffering from the scourge of the opioid crisis, 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 the Rochester-Finger Lakes Region 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 the Rochester-Finger Lakes Region, 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 Rochester-area patients struggling to recover from opioid addiction,” 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. URMC’s CCBHC has a proven track record of helping people through their toughest times, and I’ll do everything I can to provide full funding for it in the future to ensure that Rochester-Finger Lakes 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 noted that with the Rochester-Finger Lakes Region still struggling in the midst of the opioid epidemic, that allowing funding to expire for URMC’s CCBHC would be absolutely unacceptable. According to the Monroe County Heroin Task Force, 2017’s total of 766 opioid overdoses in Monroe County rose to 1,133 opioid overdoses in 2018, coming out to an average of three opioid overdoses per day. That same report added in 2017, there were 220 opioid overdose deaths, and that in 2018, there were 166 overdose deaths. Additionally, Schumer explained that the opioid crisis is harming Rochester-Finger Lakes residents of all ages. Earlier this March, according to reports, two adults were convicted of child endangerment in court, after allowing an infant they were watching over to ingest opioids. The child was immediately taken to the hospital and the overdose was reversed by the administration of Narcan. Additionally, in January of this year, a drug dealer was convicted for selling fentanyl-laced heroin to a resident of Irondequoit, which eventually led to his death. Schumer explained that these statistics and examples clearly show that to address the opioid crisis, an all-hands-on-deck and all of the above approach is necessary, including a specific focus on treatment and prevention by passing the Excellence in Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Expansion Act to extend the CCBHC pilot program.

Schumer explained that since starting up two years ago, URMC’s CCBHC has been a huge boon to local Rochester-Finger Lakes Region communities and to the efforts of the Opioid Task Force of Monroe County, which works to ensure that individuals and families impacted by the disease of addiction have full and complete access to prevention, treatment and recovery services on par with coverage equal to that of other diseases.  Over the course of the last two years, the CCBHC program has allowed the URMC clinic to treat 4,161 adults and 2,088 children, for a total of 6,249 patients. Additionally, according to URMC, the CCBHC designation has allowed the clinic to hire 40 new full-time employees and expand their chemical dependency and detox programs by 10,000 square feet. The CCBHC enabled URMC to add new addiction recovery services including 24-hour mobile crisis teams to respond to patients in need, telephonic crisis services, targeted case management and new Peer Support specialists to manage and coach a patient through recovery.  They also added psychosocial rehab therapists and primary care screening with the capacity to see patients out in the community, since in many instances those struggling with addiction are often unable to get to the clinic.

Furthermore, the hospital plans to expand its CCBHC services by another 20,000 feet, to focus on young adults with substance abuse and mental health troubles. Schumer added that the CCBHC has had tangible benefits for patients, as well. In the program’s first year, of the 3,400 Medicaid patients treated, there was a 5.53% drop in Behavioral Health Inpatient admissions, a 4.84% reduction in Psychiatric Emergency Visits, and a 4.75% reduction in Medical Hospital Admissions. Schumer explained that URMC’s CCBHC is the only provider of these expansive addiction and mental health care services in the region, and that if the New York State CCBHC funding were to expire, patients’ access to them would drop dramatically.

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 CCBHCs also report the funds have expanded their capacity to provide crisis care, as well as improve outreach into the community, update new technologies to improve care coordination, as well as implement new care delivery or outreach programs with schools and the criminal justice system.

Schumer was joined by Mark Taubman, M.D., CEO of the University of Rochester Medical Center, Monroe County Sheriff Todd Baxter, Patrick Seche, M.S., Director of Addiction Services, URMC CCBHC, Kelly Quinn, a Recovery Peer Advocate at the CCBHC, and local physicians.

“The Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic at Strong Recovery is a critical part of our community’s response to the opioid crisis,” said Mark Taubman, M.D., CEO of the University of Rochester Medical Center. “It enables us to provide the integrated care and support necessary to get children and adults on the road to recovery, and is already making an impact by increasing access to care and reducing hospital visits. We are extremely grateful for Sen. Schumer’s leadership and his efforts to continue federal support for this program.”

“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. ”

Therefore, 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 eight 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 the Rochester-Finger Lakes Region’s current addiction and mental health service needs, it should be extended immediately.

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