Counties Urge Congress to Pass Important Behavioral and Mental Health Policies
WASHINGTON — Led by the National Association of Counties (NACo), a bipartisan group of nearly 150 county elected officials last week urged congressional leaders to pass key behavioral and mental health policies before the end of the year.
In a letter to congressional leaders, the county officials wrote:
“As a key intergovernmental partner, we urge you to work towards the passage of a bipartisan behavioral health package that enhances our ability to provide comprehensive behavioral health services in all settings, strengthens the behavioral health workforce and increases resident access to services.”
County leaders outlined support for policies that would:
- Amend the Medicaid Inmate Exclusion Policy (MIEP)
- Repeal the Institutions for Mental Diseases (IMD) exclusion
- Fund direct and flexible grant programs to counties to support the recruitment, training and retention of a sufficient behavioral health workforce
- Sustain federal funding to support local crisis response infrastructure through Medicaid, and
- Enforce policies that ensure equal coverage of treatment for mental illness and addiction.
Counties are integral to the nation’s behavioral health system, both funding and coordinating behavioral health services, including those provided in county-owned and operated community health facilities. Additionally, counties help finance and administer Medicaid, the largest source of funding for behavioral health services in the United States.
By directing resources to community-based treatment and services, counties can better serve residents with behavioral health conditions, reduce reliance on the criminal legal system, and direct valuable resources towards improving stability and health.