WASHINGTON, DC -- In an effort to expand access to mental health and substance use services, U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse and Congressmen David Cicilline and Seth Magaziner today announced that Rhode Island is one of fifteen states that will receive a $1 million, one-year planning grant to be considered among the final ten states that will be chosen in 2024 to participate in the Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC) Medicaid demonstration program.

This new federal award, administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), will help enhance access to comprehensive mental health and substance use care.  The competitive grant award positions the state to work with behavioral health providers and further develop plans to invest in CCBHCs.

CCBHCs are specially designated mental health clinics that must meet rigorous federal standards, such as serving anyone who needs care regardless of their ability to pay, providing 24/7 crisis services, and delivering developmentally appropriate care to children and youth.

The CCBHC model provides integrated mental health, substance use disorder, behavioral health, and medical care as well as 24/7 access to crisis intervention services.  Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics aim to swiftly treat any patient in need of care, regardless of diagnosis or insurance status.

This new federal grant opportunity was created by the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, a major public safety and mental health package that Senators Reed and Whitehouse and Congressman Cicilline helped pass last year and was signed into law by President Biden in June of 2022.  The law included a nationwide expansion of the CCBHC Medicaid demonstration program over ten years. 

The purpose of the CCBHC planning grants is to support states in their development of proposals to participate in a time-limited CCBHC Demonstration program. States develop and implement certification systems for CCBHCs, establish prospective payment systems (PPS) for Medicaid reimbursable services, and prepare applications to participate in the CCBHC Demonstration program. CCBHCs are designed to ensure access to coordinated comprehensive behavioral health care. CCBHCs are required to serve anyone who requests care for mental health or substance use, regardless of their ability to pay, place of residence, or age – including developmentally appropriate care for children and youth.  The award also places Rhode Island in contention for additional federal dollars that would help cover the cost of the transition to CCBHCs.

"I am pleased Rhode Island applied and was selected for this $1 million planning grant.  This federal funding will strengthen the state’s network of mental health care and substance use treatment centers.  It will ensure more Rhode Islanders – especially those experiencing severe mental health issues or addiction disorders -- can access the timely support and treatment they need,” said Senator Reed, who has been working to expand the CCBHC model to since 2013 through his support for the Excellence in Mental Health Act.

“This federal funding will help the state plan to expand access to much-needed mental health and substance use services for Rhode Islanders,” said Senator Whitehouse, Democratic author of the Comprehensive Addiction Recovery Act (CARA).  “Rhode Island has long been a leader in mental and behavioral health treatment, and this federal funding will help us make more progress.”

“Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHC) provide the comprehensive and coordinated care that so many struggling with mental health and substance use disorders need, regardless of their ability to pay,” said Congressman Cicilline. “I’m thrilled that Rhode Island has been awarded this planning grant and opportunity to become one of ten states to participate in the CCBHC Medicaid demonstration program – we have long been a leader in this area and this funding will allow our talented health professionals to develop even better systems and services for those in need.”

“Rhode Islanders battling mental health challenges deserve affordable, comprehensive treatment and coordinated care,” said Congressman Magaziner. “This funding investment will strengthen Rhode Island’s mental health care delivery system, which is vitally important to thousands of Rhode Islanders now more than ever.”

“This behavioral health grant will play an important role in improving the health and safety of those in all 39 cities and towns across our state,” said Governor Dan McKee. “The need for increased access to mental health and substance use care is needed now more than ever. I thank the Biden Administration and our Congressional Delegation for this critical funding.”

Rhode Island and the other fourteen states will use the funding to compete for ten CCBHC “demonstration program” awards. CCBHCs receive Medicaid reimbursements that are based on the approved actual cost of services that the clinics provide, and clinics in states that participate in the demonstration program will receive Medicaid reimbursements at higher rates, helping to reduce the costs borne by those states.

“The Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic model represents a generational shift in our approach to behavioral healthcare, and to win this grant and be among the states competing for additional federal dollars is a huge accomplishment,” said Richard Charest, Director of the Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals (BHDDH). “With CCBHCs providing 24/7 mobile crisis response and a wide range of evidence-based services for anyone who needs help with mental health or substance use conditions, regardless of ability to pay, this model will help Rhode Island to increase access to care, improve care, and reduce the need for hospitalizations.”

“CCBHCs are a game-changer that will create parity between physical healthcare and behavioral healthcare,” said Ana Novais, Acting Secretary of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS). “Once they are up and running, CCBHCs will be reimbursed in the same way that Federally Qualified Health Centers are reimbursed, allowing providers to expand access and services. That is why our state’s transition to CCBHCs is so important.”

According to the National Council for Mental Wellbeing’s 2022 CCBHC Impact Report, more than 500 clinics served an estimated 2.1 million patients last year, up 40 percent over 2021 levels.

In addition to Rhode Island, the other fourteen states selected are: Alabama, Delaware, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Vermont, and West Virginia.

In the United States, only 45 percent of adults with any mental health condition and 10 percent of adults with any substance use disorder received treatment in 2019, according to SAMHSA.