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Federal funds to boost Missouri mental health clinics through demonstration project

Susannah Lohr | St. Louis Public Radio

About a dozen of Missouri’s mental health clinics will receive an infusion of federal money in 2017, after the state was one of eight selected to be part of a national demonstration project.

The clinics will be required to collect and report quality data and meet a set of criteria, which will determine how much money they receive. It’s part of a $1.1 billion measure to improve the quality of mental health and addiction services. The law that created the program, the Excellent in Mental Health Act, was introduced by U.S. Sens. Roy Blunt, R-Mo, and Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., in 2013.

“When these criteria came out, we said 'wow — we’re doing almost 80 percent of this stuff already,'” said Joe Yancey, the CEO of Places for People, which serves about 1,500 people with severe mental illnesses in St. Louis each year.

Places for People and several other Missouri clinics have spent the past couple years gearing up to participate in the project. Yancey said the organization will now expand to serve children as well as adults and adolescents.

Brent McGinty, president and CEO of the Missouri Coalition for Community Behavioral Healthcare said improving quality will mean coordinating mental and physical health.

“If they might have diabetes, they might have other physical health issues that are exacerbated by their conditions on the behavioral health side. So the [clinics] will be able to provide those kinds of integrated health services,” McGinty said.

The demonstration project will last for two years.

Follow Durrie on Twitter: @durrieB