Florida mental and behavioral healthcare providers get funding boost from Affordable Care Act

Eight health centers in Florida, including one in Miami Beach and another in Broward County, are to receive almost $2 million in Affordable Care Act funding to help care for people with mental and behavioral health issues.

The grants, announced on Thursday by the Department of Health and Human Services, are part of $54.6 million in ACA funding intended to help 221 health centers around the country establish or expand such care for about 450,000 patients.

The Miami Beach Community Health Center and the Broward Community and Family Health Centers will each receive $250,000. So will five others, in Immokalee, St. Petersburg, Panama City, Tampa and Trenton, a town in Gilchrist County, west of Gainesville. A health center in Melbourne is to be given $246,896.

The $1,996,896 allocated to the eight organizations in Florida is intended to help pay for the care of 14,752 people.

The Miami Beach Community Health Center, with two locations, says on its website that for 30 years it has been “dedicated to helping the uninsured and underinsured in South Florida obtain affordable, quality and professional medical care.”

The facility in Broward County has four locations, in Hollywood, Pompano Beach, Lauderhill and West Park. Its website describes it as a not-for-profit entity that is “committed to providing accessible comprehensive, high-quality primary and preventive care services.”

A statement from HHS said the health centers would use the funds to hire mental-health professionals, add mental health and substance-use disorder services, and establish new models for primary care.

“These awards will further reduce the barriers that too often prevent Floridians from getting the help they need for mental health problems,” HHS Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell said in the statement. “Health centers in Florida with these awards are on the front lines of better integrating mental health into primary care and improving access to care through the Affordable Care Act.”

The ACA has expanded mental health and substance-use disorder benefits for about 60 million Americans, including 4.2 million Floridians. Last year, according to HHS, Florida health centers saw approximately 71,500 behavioral-health patients.

Such patients typically seek help dealing with issues such as depression, anxiety, grief, stress, discord in relationships, mood disorders, learning disabilities and addictions.

This story was produced in collaboration with Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent program of the Kaiser Family Foundation.