On Monday night, the U.S. Senate passed HR 4302, the Medicare Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) extension. The bill passed the U.S. House of Representatives last week and now goes to President Obama for his signature. HR 4302 includes two provisions that are relevant to people living with mental illness and their families.
First, the bill includes the Excellence in Mental Health Act demonstration project. This eight (8) state pilot is critical to modernizing publicly funded mental health services to align with evidence-based practices and to streamline Medicaid funding. The eight states selected will receive planning grants and Medicaid funding to provide comprehensive community-based mental health services and supports, including integrated mental health and primary care treatment. Community mental health programs participating in this program will be required to provide a broad range of services, including 24-hour mobile crisis teams, crisis stabilization services, outpatient mental health and substance use services, peer and family supports, and intensive, community-based services for veterans.
Second, HR 4302 includes authority for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to undertake a new pilot program for states to establish and expand “Assisted Outpatient Treatment” (AOT) programs. This program applies to individuals living with serious mental illness who are not participating in treatment and experience serious adverse consequences such as repeated hospitalizations, homelessness or incarceration. States that choose to apply for funding appropriated for this program will be required to gather outcomes data on the effectiveness of the program, including its impact on reducing negative outcomes.
HR 4302 can be accessed here. The Excellence in Mental Health Act demonstration project can be found in Section 223 and the Assisted Outpatient Treatment demonstration program in Section 224.