According to Public Radio International’s (PRI) program “Side Affects,” the Excellence In Mental Health Act is “the biggest federal investment in mental health and addiction services in generations.” Twenty four states–including Massachusetts–have received planning grants. SAMHSA explained: “When the planning grant phase ends in October 2016, awardees will have an opportunity to apply to participate in a two-year demonstration program that will begin January 2017.”

In a story entitled “The mental health overhaul that is already underway,” Side Affects explains:

Growing evidence supports the effectiveness of community-based care for mental health and addiction. And now the Excellence in Mental Health Act is creating a new path for federal funding to pay for care at such clinics. The Act creates a new federal designation for a type of behavioral health clinic that can be funded through enhanced Medicaid payments.

This is groundbreaking, explains Chuck Ingoglia, vice president of the National Council for Behavioral Health, because it begins to put mental health treatment on equal footing with primary care.

The newly recognized clinics — termed Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics — will be able to get funding via the same mechanism that primary care safety net clinics have relied on since 2001 to treat low-income patients. Existing community mental health centers have never been eligible for this kind of funding.

“What we’re doing is creating a behavioral health provider type in Medicaid where none has existed before,” explains Ingoglia. He adds that it ensures that mental health clinics are treated comparably to primary care facilities. “This is a question about parity or equity—we want to make sure that payment is consistent.”

Listen to the complete story: