The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced December 12 plans to issue a $50 million funding opportunity announcement to help Community Health Centers establish or expand behavioral health services for people living with mental illness, and drug and alcohol problems.  Community Health Centers will be able to use these new funds, made available through the Affordable Care Act, for efforts such as hiring new mental health and substance use disorder professionals, adding mental health and substance use disorder services, and employing team-based models of care.

“Most behavioral health conditions are treatable, yet too many Americans are not able to get needed treatment,” said Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Administrator Mary K. Wakefield, Ph.D., R.N.  “These new Affordable Care Act funds will expand the capacity of our network of community health centers to respond to the mental health needs in their communities.”

“These new funds will further the Department’s work to develop integrated primary and behavioral health care services to better meet the needs of people with mental health and substance use conditions,” said Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Administrator, Pamela S. Hyde.

It is estimated these awards will support behavioral health expansion in approximately 200 existing health centers nationwide.

In addition to the funding announced for mental health clinic, various other mental health initiatives are proposed.  The President’s Fiscal Year 2014 Budget includes a new $130 million initiative to help teachers recognize signs of mental illness in students and refer them to services, support innovative state-based programs to improve mental health outcomes for young people ages, and train 5,000 more mental health professionals.   http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget/factsheet/improving-mental-health-prevention-and-treatment-services.

The Administration also recently finalized rules under the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, which require most health insurance plans will now include coverage for mental health and substance use conditions that is comparable to their medical and surgical coverage.

The Administration also launched www.mentalhealth.gov a new website featuring easy-to-understand information about basic signs of mental health problems, how to talk about mental health, and how to find help.

Are you concerned about mental health or other health care policy concerns?  Join the discussion and share your input by joining Project COPE: Coalition for Patient Empowerment here.

About Project COPE: The Coalition On Patient Empowerment & Its  Coalition on Responsible Health Policy

Sharing and promoting the use of practical practices, tools, information and ideas that patients and their families, health care providers, employers, health plans, communities and policymakers can share and offer to help patients, their families and others in their care communities to understand and work together to better help the patients, their family and their professional and private care community plan for and manage these  needs is the purpose of Project COPE, The Coalition on Patient Empowerment & It’s Affiliate, the Coalition on Responsible Health Policy.

The best opportunity to improve access to quality, affordable health care for all Americans is for every American, and every employer, insurer, and community organization to seize the opportunity to be good Samaritans.  The government, health care providers, insurers and community organizations can help by providing education and resources to make understanding and dealing with the realities of illness, disability or aging easier for a patient and their family, the affected employers and others. At the end of the day, however, caring for people requires the human touch.  Americans can best improve health care by not waiting for someone else to step up:  Step up and help bridge the gap when you or your organization can. Speak up to help communicate and facilitate when you can.  Building health care neighborhoods filled with good neighbors throughout the community is the key.

The outcome of this latest health care reform push is only a small part of a continuing process.  Whether or not the Affordable Care Act makes financing care better or worse, the same challenges exist.  The real meaning of the enacted reforms will be determined largely by the shaping and implementation of regulations and enforcement actions which generally are conducted outside the public eye.  Americans individually and collectively clearly should monitor and continue to provide input through this critical time to help shape constructive rather than obstructive policy. Regardless of how the policy ultimately evolves, however, Americans, American businesses, and American communities still will need to roll up their sleeves and work to deal with the realities of dealing with ill, aging and disabled people and their families.  While the reimbursement and coverage map will change and new government mandates will confine providers, payers and patients, the practical needs and challenges of patients and families will be the same and confusion about the new configuration will create new challenges as patients, providers and payers work through the changes.

We also encourage you and others to help develop real meaningful improvements by joining Project COPE: Coalition for Patient Empowerment here by sharing ideas, tools and other solutions and other resources. The Coalition For Responsible Health Care Policy provides a resource that concerned Americans can use to share, monitor and discuss the Health Care Reform law and other health care, insurance and related laws, regulations, policies and practices and options for promoting access to quality, affordable healthcare through the design, administration and enforcement of these regulations.

Other Helpful Resources & Other Information

We hope that this information is useful to you.   If you found these updates of interest, you also be interested in one or more of the following other recent articles published on the Coalition for Responsible Health Care Reform electronic publication available here, our electronic Solutions Law Press Health Care Update publication available here, or our HR & Benefits Update electronic publication available here .  You also can get access to information about how you can arrange for training on “Building Your Family’s Health Care Toolkit,”  using the “PlayForLife” resources to organize low-cost wellness programs in your workplace, school, church or other communities, and other process improvement, compliance and other training and other resources for health care providers, employers, health plans, community leaders and others here. If you or someone else you know would like to receive future updates about developments on these and other concerns, please be sure that we have your current contact information – including your preferred e-mail by creating or updating your profile here. You can reach other recent updates and other informative publications and resources.

Recent examples of these publications include:

For important information about this communication click here.

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