NCBH Encourages ExAct Support to Improve U.S. Mental Health Standards

By John Lavitt 06/26/15

The goal is to help establish a federal infrastructure that supports a strong behavioral health safety net.

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The National Council for Behavioral Health has announced full support for the Excellence in Mental Health Act. Known as the ExAct, the federal legislation represents a major investment in mental health and addiction services. The goal is to help establish a federal infrastructure that supports a strong behavioral health safety net, fostering a much-needed mental health support system that will benefit communities around the country.

In March 2014, Congress passed the Protecting Access to Medicare Act (H.R. 4302). This legislation included provisions for the Excellence in Mental Health Act that begins with an eight-state demonstration project. Eventually, the ExAct will be the single largest investment in community behavioral health in more than 50 years.

With an Aug. 5, 2015, deadline, the National Council for Behavioral Health is hoping states apply to take part in the new program. Only states that receive planning grant funding will be eligible to be a demonstration state. For decades, local behavioral health providers and the health care systems have grappled with how to best provide quality care for Americans living with mental illness or addictions.

The Excellence in Mental Health Act (ExAct) was designed to address that specific concern. In an exclusive interview with The Fix, Linda Rosenberg, President and CEO of the National Council for Behavioral Health, explained the value of the program:

“For the first time in two generations, our country has a long overdue comprehensive checklist that is going to change the way providers deliver behavioral health care services to consumers. Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHC) will provide consumers with comprehensive care that is accessible, world class, and an excellent value for insurers," Rosenberg said. "I encourage as many states as possible to apply for ExAct state planning grant applications before the fast approaching Aug. 5, 2015 deadline."

Three specific strategies to be implemented under the ExAct are as follows:

  1. Create Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCHBC) that will provide comprehensive mental health and addiction outpatient services.
  2. Require the CCBHCs to partner with a variety of health system partners, from primary care to hospitals, VA centers, and others.
  3. Require states to establish a payment system based on CCBHC's actual costs, a significant improvement given that, until now, community mental health and addiction services have been drastically underfunded.

For more information, check out this link to the website of the National Council for Behavioral Health where they provide this PDF download of their ExAct fact sheet.

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Growing up in Manhattan as a stutterer, John Lavitt discovered that writing was the best way to express himself when the words would not come. After graduating with honors from Brown University, he lived on the Greek island of Patmos, studying with his mentor, the late American poet Robert Lax. As a writer, John’s published work includes three articles in Chicken Soup For The Soul volumes and poems in multiple poetry journals and compilations. Active in recovery, John has been the Treatment Professional News Editor for The Fix. Since 2015, he has published over 500 articles on the addiction and recovery news website. Today, he lives in Los Angeles with his beautiful wife, trying his best to be happy and creative. Find John on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

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