3/31/2014
Susan Rajkovich, ENA Media Relations
susan.rajkovich@ena.org
847-460-4091

ENA Applauds Congress for Passage of Mental Health Legislation

Congress Included Excellence in Mental Health Act Demonstration Project in Medicare Payment Bill


DES PLAINES, Ill., March 31, 2014 – The Emergency Nurses Association today applauded Congress for including the bipartisan Excellence in Mental Health demonstration project in the larger Medicare SGR Repeal bill.  

The bill passed the Senate today and the House on Friday. It now heads to President Obama for his expected signature.

“Improving mental health care is an important concern to our members,” said 2014 ENA President Deena Brecher, MSN, RN, APN, ACNS-BC, CEN, CPEN. “Many work in emergency departments where behavioral health patients often seek treatment because of a lack of community-based mental health facilities. The passage of this legislation, including its stable source of funding, will improve the quality of care and increase access for those who need treatment.”

The Medicare SGR Repeal bill, which prevents a steep cut in Medicare payments to physicians, includes a two-year demonstration program in eight states that implements the Excellence in Mental Health Act. The act was introduced in the Senate by Sens. Deborah Stabenow (D-MI) and Roy Blunt (R-MO) and in the House by Reps. Doris Matsui (D-CA) and Leonard Lance (R-NJ).

The Excellence in Mental Health Act will improve the quality of mental health care treatment through community behavioral health clinics. The clinics must cover a broad range of mental health services, including 24-hour crisis psychiatric care, full assessment, and increased integration of physical, mental and substance abuse treatment.

Importantly, the bill allows community behavioral health clinics to be reimbursed under Medicaid at levels comparable to Federally Qualified Community Health Centers. Currently, the clinics are simply stretched too thin and struggle to provide essential services in the face of inadequate funding. This bill will allow these organizations to receive reimbursement for the actual cost of providing services.

By expanding access to community mental health centers, the Excellence in Mental Health Act demonstration project will reduce the use of emergency departments by behavioral health patients while improving care for chronic mental health conditions.

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About the Emergency Nurses Association

ENA, which has more than 40,000 members worldwide, is the only professional nursing association dedicated to defining the future of emergency nursing and emergency care through advocacy, expertise, innovation and leadership. Founded in 1970, ENA develops and disseminates education and practice standards and guidelines, and affords consultation to both private and public entities regarding emergency nurses and their practice. Additional information is available at ENA's Web site, www.ena.org or on Twitter: @ENAorg​.​