Dear Senators McConnell and Schumer, Madame Speaker and Representative McCarthy,
I am writing to advise you of our support for H.R. 1767/S. 824, the “Excellence in Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Expansion Act,” which are both pending in their respective committees of jurisdiction. This legislation renews and expands the critical, community-based treatment program, the Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC), which would otherwise expire on 22 May of this year.
In 2013, the FOP was among the leaders in supporting the passage of the “Excellence in Mental Health Act.” This legislation, which was incorporated into H.R. 4302, the “Protecting Access to Medicare Act,” established a pilot program to address the existing weaknesses in our nation’s mental health system and the effect this has on public safety. The legislation established Federally Qualified Community Behavioral Health Centers which provided a better alternative to law enforcement agencies responding to calls from service who encounter an individual with a mental illness or substance abuse issue. In order to be certified for the program, the CCBHC must coordinate the care they provided with partners in law enforcement, the criminal justice system and veteran’s organizations. In communities with CCBHCs, law enforcement officers gain the support from trained mental health and addiction professionals, alleviating the burden on front-line officers and helping people get access to the correct level of treatment.
The “Excellence in Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Expansion Act” would reauthorize the program for two more years and expand the program to 11 more States. This will ensure that States do not lose the progress they have made addressing the issues mental health and addiction in the coming months and allow additional States and communities to benefit from the program.
On behalf of the more than 350,000 members of the Fraternal Order of Police, we ask your support for bringing these bills to the floor to ensure that our officers can better serve their communities and that our fellow citizens struggling with mental illness and addiction get the treatment they need. If I can provide any additional information on this matter, please do not hesitate to contact me or my Executive Director, Jim Pasco, in my Washington office.