Senate votes to authorize community behavioral health clinics


STATE HOUSE – The Senate today approved legislation sponsored by Senate Health and Human Services Committee Chairman Joshua Miller to establish state Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHCs) to help address the mental health crisis in Rhode Island.

The bill (2022-S 2469A) would authorize and direct the Executive Office of Health and Human Services to seek federal approval to establish CCBHCs, and to cover all behavioral health services at CCBHCs through a bundled payment methodology that is specific to each provider organization’s anticipated costs.

CCBHCs are specially-designated clinics that provide a comprehensive range of mental health and substance use services. They qualify for an enhanced Medicaid reimbursement rate based on their anticipated costs of expanding services to meet the needs of these complex populations.

The clinics provide integrated, evidence-based substance abuse disorder and mental health services, including 24/7 crisis response and medication-assisted treatment. They have high standards for timeliness of access, quality reporting, staffing and coordination with social services, criminal justice and education systems, and they are funded at levels that reflect the full costs meet the need for care in their communities.

“Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics are a great option that we should be taking full advantage of here in Rhode Island. We are struggling to meet the growing mental and behavioral health care needs of our population, and these are a proven model that qualify for more federal dollars,” said Chairman Miller (D-Dist. 28, Cranston, Providence). “Besides bringing in funds for much-needed services, these clinics make comprehensive services readily available to people in their own neighborhoods, helping them to address their needs and while also avoiding expensive and less-appropriate emergency department care. It’s better care, and it’s more affordable for Rhode Island.”

More than 430 CCBHCs are operating in 42 states, plus Washington, D.C., and Guam.

CCBHCs have dramatically increased access to mental health and substance use disorder treatment, expanded states’ capacity to address the overdose crisis and established innovative partnerships with law enforcement, schools and hospitals to improve care, reduce recidivism and prevent hospital readmissions.

In the first year of CCBHC operations, New York reported individuals receiving CCHBC services showed a reduction in the use of more costly inpatient and emergency services – including:

·         a 54% decrease in the number of CCBHC clients using behavioral health inpatient care;

·         a 61% decrease in the number of clients using general hospital inpatient services; and

·         a 46% decrease in the number of clients using the emergency department.

Under the bill, subject to federal approval, the CCBHC model would be established in RI by January 1, 2023, and would include any enhanced Medicaid match dollars for required services or populations served.

The legislation now heads to the House of Representatives, where Rep. Jacquelyn Baginski (D-Dist. 17, Cranston) is sponsoring companion legislation (2022-H 7858).