HHS Awards $450M for Community-Based SUD Care During Coronavirus

HHS Awards $450M for Community-Based SUD Care During Coronavirus

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has awarded $450 million to improve community-based mental and behavioral healthcare access, as well as respond to the coronavirus pandemic.


Specifically, SAMHSA will award $200 million to expand Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHCs) and another $250 million in emergency COVID-19 funding.


“New funding secured from Congress by President Trump will help certified community behavioral health clinics continue to treat Americans with substance use disorders and mental illness during the COVID-19 pandemic,” HHS Secretary Alex Azar said in a statement.


CCBHCs are instrumental in driving patient access to behavioral healthcare. These community-based clinics provide patient-centered care, HHS said, and operate under special conditions to meet the varying needs of the populations they serve.


In order to qualify for funding, awardees had to demonstrate that they fulfilled those principles. Specifically, clinics must offer 24/7 crisis intervention for a number of high-risk populations. Populations include individuals with serious mental illness or substance use disorder (SUD), children and adolescents with serious emotional disturbance, and individuals with co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders.


“The community clinics supported by SAMHSA have an established track record of connecting Americans with serious mental illness to the treatment they need,” Azar said of the grantees. “President Trump has made it a priority throughout his administration to help Americans with serious mental illness and substance use disorders get science- and evidence-based treatment, and that commitment continues during this crisis.”


This grant funding comes at an integral time in healthcare, as medical professionals must balance the extraordinary COVID-19 pandemic crisis and maintaining the healthcare of patients with pre-existing conditions, like a chronic illness or substance use disorder.


“The Trump administration is moving quickly to respond to the needs of America’s vulnerable populations during this time,” said Elinor F. McCance-Katz, MD, PhD, the head of SAMHSA and the assistant secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use. “The nation’s behavioral health crises were not replaced by the pandemic. They persist and could worsen. We’re doing everything we can to meet our loved ones’ needs.”


Supporting community-based care, which works to meet patient needs and can accomplish more targeted patient outreach, is essential to fulfilling this. The added funding can help CCBHCs in implementing the clinic protocol and procuring the necessary precautionary materials to help them continue to deliver patient-centered care.


The funding will also aim to expand community-based behavioral health and mental healthcare, a key step forward, McCance-Katz asserted.


“Expanding community-based hubs for behavioral health care could not be more crucial for the United States,” McCance-Katz noted. “CCBHCs already perform a vital role of addressing in one location the complex needs of people with mental and substance use disorders. The coronavirus pandemic substantially increases the need for these comprehensive services.”


Chronic disease management, which includes the important work of SUD treatment, has been of key concern as of late, as medical professionals begin to see lapses in care management and the potential for adverse acute care episodes.


After the coronavirus spread launched social distancing practices and in some cases clinic closures, many chronic care patients, which can include individuals with SUD, found themselves without access to care. Concerns about contracting the illness in a health clinic or hospital outpatient setting proved too much for those considering going to a scheduled maintenance or check-in appointment.


But as the industry recognizes the COVID-19 pandemic as a long-term fact of life, providers are examining how they can still treat chronic care patients or individuals with SUD, whose illnesses did not go away during the crisis.


This funding from HHS and SAMHSA represents one step toward meeting that goal by providing community SUD clinics with the financial means necessary to continue treating patients during the pandemic.






Subscribe Our Newsletter
to get Coronavirus Updates