However, the way community behavioral health is funded in Washington state has placed unstainable pressures on our system for decades. Now, as chronic underfunding and inadequate compensation exacerbate a record workforce shortage, we have reached a breaking point.
Without a sustainable system to attract, retain, and grow behavioral health professionals, new or expanded programs – which are necessary to meet increasing demand – only exacerbate competition for the same pool of potential staff members.
Introducing Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics or CCBHCs:
A CCBHC is a specially designated clinic that receives flexible funding to expand the scope of mental health and substance use services available in the community. CCBHCs serve anyone who seeks care, regardless of their diagnosis and insurance status. Importantly, the model also aims to support whole person health by advancing integration of behavioral health with physical health care, increase consistent use of evidence-based practices and improve access to high-quality care.
The CCBHC model offers a promising solution for Washington because it will help to:
- Address the current workforce crisis that is limiting access to behavioral health services, ensuring programs and facilities remain open and ready to serve community members.
- Offer competitive compensation to ensure our workforce keeps pace with growing demand.
- Meet the needs of anyone who walks through the door – and make sure providers receive fair compensation for upstream preventative services.
- For example, if an individual needs case management that is not covered by their commercial insurance, providers would be able to bridge that gap.
- Reduce reliance on hospitals, jails, schools and other community partners in responding to behavioral health needs.
- Create a framework for continuous quality improvement, requiring CCBHCs to report key clinical outcomes and quality data focused so that collectively we can adhere to best practices, ensure timely access to care, manage chronic conditions, prevent the escalation of mental health needs and more.
- Compensate providers for completing vital work that is typically not reimbursed under fee-for-service and other current arrangements, including interdisciplinary care planning, care coordination, outreach and engagement, and population health management.
Demonstrated success nationwide
According to recent data from the National Council for Mental Wellbeing, existing CCBHCs nationwide are:
- Serving 23 percent more people, on average, than prior to implementation.
- Alleviating the impact of the current workforce shortage, with an estimated 11,240 new staff positions being added across all active CCBHC sites.
- Meeting community members where they are, with 79 percent of sites delivering services directly to children and youth at school.
- Building partnerships with law enforcement, hospitals and emergency departments, improving outcomes for those in need.
CCBHCs improve access to care, expand programs and services and support meaningful investments in our community behavioral health workforce.
This is possible for Washington.