Federal Week in Review September 25, 2018: From AMHCA

Senate Passes FY 2019 Conference Committee Funding Measure for Labor-HHS-DOD; House Next

Last week, the main legislative action was that the Senate passed a major funding bill for three major agencies, including the Department of Health and Human Services  (the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) receives it funding through this spending package), by a vote of 93-7.


Six Republican Senators and Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont (I) voted against the measure. The Republicans voting against were: Jeff Flake (AZ), Mike Lee (UT), David Perdue (GA), Ben Sasse (NE), Pat Toomey (PA), and Rand Paul (KY).

The overwhelming approval of the Conference Committee amendment means funding will likely be approved by Congress before the end of FY 2018 on September 30, The House is scheduled to vote this week. The measure includes a Continuing Resolution (CR), funding agencies for which funding has not otherwise been approved by Congress through December 7, 2018.

SAMHSA gets a $584 million increase under the funding measure, with the Mental Health Block Grant (MHBG) funded at the FY 2018 level of $701.5 million. The MHBG increase previously approved by the Senate of $25 million was not included in the final package.

The Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment (SAPT) Block Grant is funded at the FY 2018 level of $1.779 billion, but states will also get $1.5 billion in grants for opioid response—a $500 million increase in opioid abuse grants, $50 million of which must go to Indian tribes or tribal organizations and 15 percent of which must be set-aside for states with the highest age-adjusted mortality rate related to opioid use disorders.

Grants for Certified Community Behavioral Health Centers are increased by $50 million, to $150 million, while there is a $10 million increase in the National Child Traumatic Stress Initiative. The latter increase is to be allocated as:

•9 $4 million for mental health services for unaccompanied alien children, with a special focus on children separated from their parents;

• $3 million for mental health services for children in Puerto Rico;

• $1 million to expand access to mental health services for tribal children, and

• $2 million for training and dissemination of evidence-based treatments for trauma caused by violence.

Of special note is a $4.8 million increase in funding for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, to $12 million in total funding. The Senate initially proposed a $2.8 million increase to the previous funding level of $7.2 million.

Funding for the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention is increased by $200,000 designated for the American Indian and Alaska Native program.

The measure also includes $5 million for Assertive Community Treatment for individuals with serious mental illness, the FY 2018 funding level. The additional $5 million earlier proposed by the Senate was not included.

In addition:

• Congress provides $89 million for the Medication-Assisted Treatment for Prescription Drug and Opioid Addiction program, a $5 million increase. Within this amount, $10 million must be used for grants to Indian tribes, tribal organizations, or consortia.

• Funding for Mental Health Awareness Training is bumped up by $1 million, to $20,963,000.

• Money for Tribal Behavioral Health Grants is increased by $5 million, to $20 million.

• Funding for Targeted Capacity Expansion under Substance Abuse Treatment is increased $5 million to $100,192,000.

• An additional $1 million, for a total of $6 million, is provided for Building Communities of Recovery.

• An additional $1 million is provided for the Sober Truth on Underage Drinking (STOP) Act program, bringing total funding to $8 million.

• An additional $250,000 is provided for Minority Fellowships under Substance Abuse Treatment, bringing the total to $4,789,000. Mental Health Minority Fellowships continue to be funded at the FY 2018 level of $8,059,000.

The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) gets $20 million to establish three Rural Centers of Excellence on substance use disorders to provide scientific and technical assistance to county and State health departments and other entities. Also under HRSA, $18 million within the $75 million provided to Mental and Behavioral Health Education Training is designated for Graduate Psychology Education.



Joel E. Miller

Executive Director and CEO

American Mental Health Counselors Association (AMHCA)

107 S. West St., #779

Alexandria, VA 22314

T – 703-548-4474

F – 703-548-4775