A proposed bill in the Oregon legislature would boost funding for a new model of behavioral health clinics aimed at treating both the physical and mental health of patients.
The proposal would combine $15.2 million from the state’s general fund with a $66 million match from the federal government. The funds would support Oregon’s Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics, according to Sen. Arnie Roblan, D-Coos Bay, the chair of the legislature’s mental health committee.
“The unique part about this is it combines physical and mental health and you have it in the same place,” Roblan says.
This clinic model offers a way to treat individuals with co-occurring diseases and it reduces patient visits by allowing clinics to bill for both services.
“When they’re being treated this way they don’t end up in the emergency room as often, therefore we save money that way. They don’t end up in the criminal justice system, therefore we save money that way,” Roblan says.
The Oregon Health Authority lists 23 Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics across the state.
“It will provide complete services for people,” says Andra Hollenbeck with the Southern Oregon chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. “Not just mental health services but it’ll give them access to physical health, dentistry, [and] other kinds of services that they might need that help support mental health.”
The state and federal funding would support the existing pilot projects for another year and pay for the state to study the model for wider use.
The bill is awaiting discussion by the state legislature.