On September 21, the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance sent a letter to behavioral health stakeholders requesting feedback from partners on policy recommendations that would remove access barriers to mental health and substance use disorder (SUD) care in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. In response to the committee’s request, on November 15, NACo sent a letter to committee leadership highlighting the county role in behavioral and mental health care, and offered policy recommendations that would enhance access to care and reduce rates of untreated mental and behavioral health conditions in local communities.
In nearly every state and the District of Columbia, there is at least one mental health facility operated by a county, local or municipal government. Counties also play a role in financing and administering Medicaid services, the largest funding source for behavioral health services in the United States.
NACo provided the following recommendations for improving behavioral healthcare:
- Strengthen the behavioral workforce by incentivizing the recruitment, training and placement of behavioral health providers, particularly in rural areas
- Increase integration, coordination and access to care by removing exclusion policies that create barriers to treatment services and that will increase the use of SUD drug therapies across a variety of provider settings
- Finance behavioral health care enhancements specifically related to the development of local crisis response infrastructures
As intergovernmental partners, counties are invested in the advancement of policies that provide the necessary resources to address the behavioral and mental health needs of residents. NACo stands ready to work with Congress and the White House on behalf of counties and local residents to achieve this goal.
- NACo Policy Brief: Enhance Counties' Ability to Prevent and Treat Mental Illness and Substance Abuse Disorders
- NACo One-Pager: Behavioral Health Matters to Counties
- NACo Report: Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics and County Governments