Bullock for President
Monday, November 18, 2019

Governor Bullock Rolls Out Comprehensive Mental Health Plan

Plan Ensures Funding for Mental Health Providers, Early Intervention Efforts, and Community Health Centers

Grinnell, IA – As part of a tour of community health centers in central and southeastern Iowa, Montana Governor Steve Bullock today announced a comprehensive plan to expand and improve mental health services. The plan focuses on increasing support for care in key areas by funding mental health providers, early intervention efforts, and community health centers, while also fighting to end the stigma surrounding mental health treatment. 

Every year, over 40 million Americans experience a mental illness, yet over half will not receive treatment. That’s why Governor Bullock’s plan will expand access and affordability of mental health services by ensuring adequate funding, creating a culture of prevention, and supporting treatment efforts.

“The stigma around mental health has discouraged too many from seeking help, while a lack of access to quality care has blocked too many more from the treatment they need,” said Montana Governor Steve Bullock. “As President, I’ll expand access to treatment by increasing funding for mental health providers and prevention efforts, and by taking steps to educate the public on mental health to finally end the stigma surrounding treatment.” 

Leslie Carpenter, Co-founder of Iowa Mental Health Advocacy and President of NAMI Johnson County Board of Directors:

“As a serious brain disorders advocate, I find Governor Bullock’s Mental Health Plan by far the most comprehensive developed, to date, to improve the treatment of people with mental illnesses, especially those with the most serious illnesses like Schizophrenia.

“As the mom of a son with a Schizoaffective Disorder, for whom we literally have had to beg, plead, research, reason, and struggle to get the care he so desperately needs, I must say that this plan has filled my heart with hope for so many others who live with serious brain disorders. Governor Bullock’s plan will significantly improve the lives of many people living with mental illnesses, and many more will be saved.”

Watch: Governor Bullock rolls out comprehensive healthcare plan on KCCI

Read the full plan here.

Highlights from the proposal:

Ensure Adequate Funding and Services
  • Increase funding to mental health providers, medical schools and universities, and other medical education institutions (e.g., those issuing psychiatric certifications) that are graduating psychiatrists, family practitioners, and other medical professionals who can help address mental health issues in our country.
    • Set aside funding for psychiatric certification programs for advanced registered nurse practitioner (ARNP’s) and physician assistants (PA’s).
  • Create the “Rural Practitioner Loan Forgiveness Program” to provide student loan forgiveness for mental health professionals who work in rural communities for five years.
  • Raise Medicare reimbursement rates for mental health treatments.
  • Increase funding for school-based mental health, including through the expansion of School-Based Health Centers (SBHCs).
  • Push the World Health Organization (WHO) to reclassify serious mental illnesses as a neurological medical condition.
Creating the Right Culture for Prevention and Treatment
  • Bolster early intervention efforts to prevent or delay the development of more serious conditions and focus on helping children through school-based screenings and treatment. 
  • Support the Federal Communications Commission’s efforts to create a new three-digit hotline number, similar to 911, for suicide prevention resources.
  • Increase suicide prevention efforts through improved training, creating suicide prevention programs for vulnerable populations, and reducing the stigma of suicide through public information campaigns.
  • Expand the Report on the Impact of Programs Serving Patients with Mental Illness under the 21st Century Cures Act to make recommendations on how best to improve care for patients with mental illness and avoid fragmentation and duplication of services. 
Supporting Treatment
  • Invest in community treatment centers for mental health. One solution will not work for every community in our country, which is why we need to ensure that we expand and fund more Community Health Centers around the country.
  • Modernize HIPAA (the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) to allow doctors to provide the best treatment options to patients with severe mental health illnesses.
  • Expand use of Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT) to ensure all treatment options are available and patients can receive assistance wherever they need it.
  • End solitary confinement for people with serious mental illnesses.
  • Reform civil commitment laws to ensure they protect patient rights while protecting access for patients who need it.
  • Conduct random audits for parity requirements for mental health coverage. 
  • Establish Mental Health Parity for Medicaid.
  • Promote Workforce Training Programs through direct and indirect subsidization of training programs at the federal and state level.
  • Ensure federal funding is available for standalone mental health facilities.