Tester Introduces New Bill to Increase Access to Behavioral Health Services for Underserved Montanans
Senator: “Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics are already making a difference in our communities, and increasing access to these types of clinics couldn’t be more necessary”
Amid mental health and addiction crises in Montana and across the country, U.S. Senator Jon Tester is today announcing bipartisan legislation, the Excellence in Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Act, to expand access to Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics in the state and nationally.
“This bipartisan legislation would make real strides to combat this nation’s mental health and addiction crises,” said Senator Tester. “Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics are already making a difference in our communities, and increasing access to these types of clinics couldn’t be more necessary to ensuring that uninsured or low income Montanans, and veterans, have access to essential behavioral health services-keeping our state healthier and safer for years to come.”
Montana is currently home to three newly awarded Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics located in Cascade, Missoula, and Yellowstone Counties. The bill will allow these clinics to be funded directly through the health care system instead of exclusively through grants. The increases in funding would allow more uninsured and low income Montanans to gain access to mental health and addiction services.
Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics are required to provide a comprehensive set of services including 24/7/365 crisis services; outpatient mental health and substance abuse treatment services; immediate screenings, risk assessments, and diagnoses; and care coordination including partnerships with emergency rooms, law enforcement, and veterans groups.
A new report, authored by the National Council for Mental Wellbeing, shows that these community clinics are increasing access to high-quality mental health and addiction treatment that is making a difference in the lives of thousands of people in communities across the country. Statistics from the Department of Health and Human Services show that people who received services at these clinics:
- Had 63.2 percent fewer emergency department visits.
- Spent 60.3 percent less time in jails.
- And saw a 40.7 percent decrease in homelessness.
Senator Tester is a longtime advocate for improving access to behavioral health services and recently introduced the Mental Health in Schools Act to increase access to mental health services for students in Montana. Additionally, his work on the American Rescue Plan secured more than $10 million for Montana programs to address ongoing behavioral health challenges in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.