Advocates have been pushing hard over the past couple of years for the reform and expansion of mental illness and substance use disorder (i.e., behavioral health) treatment in the U.S. The 21st Century Cures Act — which has cleared Congress and is awaiting the President’s signature — includes a number of important provisions that reflect those efforts, including sections intended to strengthen, promote, and expand access to information, care, and coverage with respect to behavioral health care across communities and for individuals, families, and the nation’s health care workforce. The Act also includes $1 billion in block grant funding to target the “epidemic of death” associated with the opioid abuse crisis.
Mental Health and Substance Abuse Disorder Provisions
In one of the most noteworthy behavioral health provisions, the Act strengthens leadership within the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) by creating a new Assistant Secretary position. The new role will oversee mental health and substance abuse research, funding, and evidence-based health care practices, and will drive and coordinate federal policy in this area. To do so, the Assistant Secretary will consult with stakeholders to improve community-based and other mental health services, including care for adults and children with serious mental illness, as well as collaborate with other federal departments, including the Departments of Defense, Veterans Affairs, Housing and Urban Development, and Labor, to improve care for veterans and service members and support programs to address chronic homelessness. The Assistant Secretary is also tasked with working with stakeholders to improve the recruitment and retention of mental health and substance use disorder professionals.
Continue Reading Major Mental Illness, Substance Use Disorder Reforms, Opioid Abuse Treatment Funding Included in 21st Century Cures Act