Feds award grants for new mental health clinics

Feds award grants for new mental health clinics
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The Obama administration is awarding $22.9 million in new grants to states to improve mental healthcare as part of a bipartisan bill passed last year.

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The planning grants give funds to 24 states to prepare applications for a two-year trial program for community mental health clinics.

Eight states will be tapped in a second round beginning in 2017 to receive funding for the clinics, which will operate under new higher standards and offer services like 24-hour crisis psychiatric care.

This process was created under the Excellence in Mental Health Act, sponsored by Sens. Debbie StabenowDeborah (Debbie) Ann Stabenow It's time to let Medicare to negotiate drug prices Trump judicial nominee says he withdrew over 'gross mischaracterizations' of record Trump judicial nominee says he withdrew over 'gross mischaracterizations' of record MORE (D-Mich.) and Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntDemocrats detail new strategy to pressure McConnell on election security bills Democrats detail new strategy to pressure McConnell on election security bills Senate Democrats to try to force additional election security votes MORE (R-Mo.), and signed into law last year. 

Stabenow said she hopes the bill is a step toward stronger mental healthcare not just in eight states but nationwide, calling it a “phase-in to comprehensive community mental healthcare.”

“What we should be doing is providing the resources to make this a national behavior health clinic model,” she said. 

The National Council for Behavioral Health praised the grants and expressed hope that they would boost mental health services. 

“We’re very excited that we can see the day when adults and children with serious mental illnesses and substance use disorders, will be able to walk into a clinic and not only get immediate help, but that their behavioral and physical health care needs will be coordinated,” Linda Rosenberg, the council’s president and CEO, said in a statement. 

The grants come at a time when there is hope for bipartisan momentum around a broader, comprehensive mental health reform bill. 

Sens. Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyOvernight Health Care: Trump officials defend changes to family planning program | Senators unveil bipartisan package on health costs | Democrats pass T spending bill with HHS funds Overnight Health Care: Trump officials defend changes to family planning program | Senators unveil bipartisan package on health costs | Democrats pass T spending bill with HHS funds Chris Murphy may oppose bipartisan health bill unless it addresses ObamaCare 'sabotage' MORE (D-Conn.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.) have introduced a mental health reform bill and are gathering bipartisan co-sponsors ahead of a hearing in the Senate health committee next week. 

“It’s not just the moderates working with the moderates,” Murphy said of his bill earlier this month. “It’s really progressives, moderates, conservatives all together, and that will be a pretty important signal to leadership.”