Green receives national behavioral health award
June 19, 2008
Washington, D.C. – The National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare awarded U.S. Rep. Gene Green (D-Texas) their 2008 Legislator of the Year award in a ceremony in Washington, D.C. yesterday.
The award was partly based on the Community Mental Health Services Improvement Act (H.R. 5176) Green introduced in January. The bill would provide grants to allow mental healthcare providers to recruit primary care professionals so patients can receive both mental and physical treatment at the same facility.
“It’s an honor to receive this award. The mental healthcare system in our communities has been consistently underfunded for too many years,” Green said.
According to the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare, less than a third of community mental health providers in the United States can afford the staff and other resources necessary to provide treatment for hypertension, diabetes, obesity, and other medical conditions. On average, people with a mental illness die 25 years earlier than the general population, largely because of chronic untreated medical conditions.
Green said community mental health organizations serve more than six million patients across the country, including children in foster care, seniors, homeless and Medicaid beneficiaries. But he says the availability of care is insufficient because of low reimbursement rates, shrinking budgets and workforce shortages.
Green’s bill would also provide funding for training and loan assistance programs to increase the number of behavioral healthcare workers.
“We have struggled to meet the basic healthcare needs of those who suffer from mental illness, but I’m hopeful we can begin to make a difference by moving this bill through the legislative process,” he said.