A Quick Look: 21st Century Cures Act and Mental Health Reform
This past year, mental health communities, supporters, professionals, and advocates from all over the country have tirelessly promoted the mental health needs through creating an awareness and pushing for mental health reform. The Mental Health Reform Act of 2016 will bring to the mental health community 1:
- Accountability measures and leadership fortification for federal mental health programs
- Facilitation of the development of treatments for mental health conditions
- Ensuring incorporation of the most up-to-date approaches to treatments for those with mental health concerns
- Supportive flexibility to states and communities to improve their mental health care and needs
- Promotion of an increased access to mental health care to include at-risk populations
- Patient care improvement through increased provisions of mental health parity protections
On December 13, 2016, the 21st Century Cures Act became a law. This law contains provisions for research of genetic, lifestyle, and environmental impacts of disease to the National Institute for Health, increase funding for cancer research, and an investment to Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies 2 . Based largely upon the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis act of 2016 2, mental health reform within this law:
- Creates an assistant secretary position for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) to replace the administrator 2.
- Increased coordination of federal mental health programs 2.
- Establishes the National Mental Health and Substance Use Policy Lab to promote evidence-based research for grant making 2.
- Improves mental health care for children with serious emotional disturbance and adults with serious mental illnesses which includes the expansion of Assisted Outpatient Treatment 2.
- Strengthens and expands the mental health workforce 2.
- Enforces mental health parity to ensure that all insurance companies that provide mental health coverage do not dis-incentivize professionals from accepting specific insurances and to ensure equality among pay rates for services 3.
- Requires that states dedicate at least 10% of their block grants to fund mental health early intervention programs 3.
- Makes Assisted Outpatient Treatment an alternative option to jail time for offenders 3.
- Allocates federal resources for high at-risk suicide populations 3.
- Allows patients to see their primary care physician and mental health care professional within the same day 3.