Excellence in Mental Health Act

Reviewed and updated: January 7, 2020


Watch Senator Debbie Stabenow speak about the Excellence in Mental Health Act here.


Senators Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), with Representatives Leonard Lance (R-NJ) and Doris Matsui (D-CA), have introduced the Excellence in Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Expansion Act (S. 1905/H.R. 3931). This legislation would expand the Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC) program to include all nineteen states that submitted applications to participate in 2016. Under the current statutory limit, only eight of these states were selected. By allowing each interested state to participate in the program, Congress could expand capacity in the behavioral health system to care for more Americans and alleviate the pressure on our nation’s jails and emergency rooms.

Take Action: Ask your legislators to cosponsor this bill today! Take action here. 


Section 223 of the Protecting Access to Medicare Act of 2014 (H.R. 4302) established a two-year, eight state initiative based on the Excellence in Mental Health and Addiction Act. The Excellence Act is designed to increase Americans’ access to community mental health and substance use treatment services via CCBHCs while improving Medicaid reimbursement for these services. In December 2016, SAMHSA announced the selection of the eight participating states: Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon and Pennsylvania.

Unfortunately, eleven states that had also gone through a year of planning and implementation activities were not selected because under language in the demonstration law that limits participation to just eight states. The National Council remains committed to expanding the Excellence Act to all interested states and will continue working with congressional champions in the coming year to expand the scope of this important program.

To learn more, see our fact sheet on “What is a CCBHC?

For an overview of the components of the program, visit our CCBHC website.



Now a quarter of the way through the two-year program, the National Council surveyed CCBHCs to find how they have been able to expand and improve services. Survey results confirm that when community behavioral health clinics are incentivized to provide evidence-based care and provided compensation that adequately covers their cost of doing business, they can transform access to care in their communities.

CCBHCs are increasing access to mental health and addiction treatment; expanding capacity to address the opioid crisis; collaborating with partners in hospitals, jails, prisons and schools; and attracting and retaining qualified staff who offer science-based, trauma-informed services – often on the same day patients present for care. Click each state to see its impact: MinnesotaMissouri, New JerseyNew YorkOklahomaOregon and Pennsylvania.

Click the links for more information on how CCBHCs are expanding access to opioid treatmentand crisis care.



In December 2017, the Interdepartmental Serious Mental Illness Coordinating Committee (ISMICC) endorsed the Excellence Act in its first report, recommending that Congress “expand the Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic program nationwide. The CCBHC program provides a framework to support effective services in a population health framework and offers a sustainable payment model.” (p. 92)

In a November 2017 Forbes piece, Dr. Sally Satel of the American Enterprise Institute expressed her support for the expansion, writing, “The Excellence in Mental Health Act of 2014 established… Certified Community Behavioral Health Centers that offer an extensive array of services, including medical care, family counseling and social services. One benefit of all these tightly linked services is likely to be sustained engagement with treatment. This year, Reps. Leonard Lance (R-NJ) and Doris Matsui (D-CA) introduced a bill to expand the project to eleven more states. I hope it passes.”

More than eighty national mental health groups, addiction, law enforcement, and veterans’ groups have endorsed the Excellence Act, including:

Addiction Policy Forum
Active Minds, Inc.
American Art Therapy Association
American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy
American Association of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP)
American Association of Pastoral Counselors
American Association of Psychoanalysis in Clinical Social Work
American Association on Health and Disability
American College of Emergency Physicians
American Counseling Association
American Dance Therapy Association
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
American Group Psychotherapy Association
American Mental Health Counselors Association
American Occupational Therapy Association
American Orthopsychiatric Association
American Osteopathic Association
American Psychological Association
American Psychiatric Association
American Society of Addiction Medicine
Anxiety and Depression Association of America
Association for Ambulatory Behavioral Healthcare
Association for Behavioral Health and Wellness<
Association of Recovery Schools
Child Welfare League of America
Clinical Social Work Association
Clubhouse International
Coalition for Supporting Housing
Community Behavioral Healthcare Association of Illinois
Community Oriented Correctional Health Services
Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
Eating Disorders Coalition
EMDR International Association
Emergency Nurses Association
Faces and Voices of Recovery
Facing Addiction
Families USA
Family-Focused Treatment Association
Family-Run Executive Director Leadership Association
First Focus Campaign for Children
Foster Family-Based Treatment Association
Give an Hour
Global Alliance for Behavioral Health and Social Justice
Hazelden Betty Ford Institute for Recovery Advocacy
International Bipolar Support Alliance
Legal Action Center
Major County Sheriffs’ Association
Mental Health America
NAADAC, the Association for Addiction Professionals
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)
National Alliance to Advance Adolescent Health
National Alliance to End Homelessness
National Association for Children’s Behavioral Health
National Association for Rural Mental Health
National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders
National Association of Counties
National Association of County Behavioral Health and Developmental Disability Directors
National Association of Police Organizations
National Association of Social Workers
National Board for Certified Counselors
National Coalition for Maternal Mental Health
National Council for Behavioral Health
National Disability Rights Network
National Guard Association of the United States
National Health Care for the Homeless Council
National Fraternal Order of Police
National League of Nursing
National Register for Health Service Psychologists
Network for Social Work Management
New Jersey Association of Mental Health and Addiction Agencies, Inc.
No Health without Mental Health
Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association
Sandy Hook Promise
School Social Work Association of America
The Jewish Federations of North America
The National Alliance to Advance Adolescent Health
The Trevor Project
Treatment Communities of America
Trinity Health
Young People in Recovery