21st Century Cures Act to tackle mental health and substance abuse disorders

The 21st Century Cures Act (21CCA) was formed to create awareness about the growing number of people being affected by mental health disorders and substance abuse.

The 21CCA focuses on the reimbursement of mental health treatment. This is an important proposal as these programs are yet to be treated at par with treatment programs of other physical illnesses. Additionally, it also warrants for increased consumer friendliness regarding parity expectations for those undergoing mental health and substance use disorder treatment.

Approved by the senate in December 2016, a substantial portion of the 900+ page document covers how to bring about increased cohesion and cooperation among the agencies involved in the funding of innovative treatments, and provision of additional resources along with addressing mental health and substance use disorders. The Act also aims to better the opportunities under the Medicaid waiver programs. It proposes to do so in the following ways.

  • MEDICAID mental health coverage: The 21CCA proposes an increase in services concerning mental health and substance use disorders and clarifies that separate payments for mental health and primary health care services on the same day for the same individual will be allowed. Even children would be eligible for the full range of screening, diagnostic and other treatment services.
  • Mental health parity: It aims at strengthening the mental health parity laws through compliance guidelines by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Department of Labor (DOL) and Treasury and health audits. It also recommends that the HHS come up with a plan of action for improved federal and state coordination related to enforcement of mental health parity. The Act aims to include individuals suffering from eating disorders and allows the HHS to identify model programs to educate and train health professionals to identify eating disorders in individuals.
  • The opioid abuse crisis: The Act also talks about allocating $1 billion in funds over the next two years towards fighting the opioid and heroin addiction epidemic.
  • Mental health and safe communities: The 21CCA provides several measures and encourages community awareness, prevention and treatment of substance abuse and mental disorders.
  • Comprehensive care model: The Act offers a comprehensive care model to bridge the gap between physical and behavioral health, which is fractured at present and proposes that $51.878 million be allocated for it each fiscal year starting 2018 to 2022.
  • Compassionate communication on HIPAA: The Act proposes revisiting the laws around permissible uses and disclosures of mental health and substance use disorder related health information to family and caregivers.
  • Strengthening leadership and accountability: It also deals with changes in the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) leadership and functions to best incorporate the changes suggested in the Act and make the most out of it.
  • Pilot projects and studies related to mental health and substance use disorders: Finally, the 21CCA also recommends numerous new pilot projects and studies that must be undertaken in the field of mental health and substance use disorders in order to facilitate their treatment.

Recovery road map

While the 21CCA is a substantial legislation intended for the betterment of facilities for people suffering from mental health disorders and substance abuse, if you or your loved one is struggling with anxiety or mental illness, you can direct them to immediate assistance by contacting the 24/7 Mental Health Helpline for information on mental health facilities near you. You can call our 24/7 helpline number 855-653-8178 or chat online with our experts for advice on choosing the best mental health counseling programs, which can be customized to suit your needs.