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Rep. Peter DeFazio Re-Introduces CAHOOTS Act to Reduce Violence, Strengthen Community Mental Health Crisis Response

Mar 16, 2021
Press Release

Rep. Peter DeFazio (OR-04) today re-introduced the Crisis Assistance Helping Out On The Streets (CAHOOTS) Act, legislation that will reduce violence in mental health crisis response and strengthen community-based mental health resources.

“For decades, Eugene’s White Bird Clinic innovative CAHOOTS program has led the way in prioritizing community-based mental health resources in crisis response situations,” said Rep. Peter DeFazio. “As our country continues to explore ways to reduce police brutality and adequately address mental health and substance use disorder crises, we must invest more in proven models that prioritize effective, trauma-informed care. By connecting individuals in non-violent crises with robust health care and social services rather than immediately involving law enforcement, we could alleviate a significant burden on local police and prevent violence. The CAHOOTS Act will help to bring Eugene’s successful model to communities across the country.”

The CAHOOTS Act is modeled after the successful Eugene program, run for 30 years by White Bird Clinic, that collaborates with local police to respond to community mental health, homelessness,  and substance use disorder crises, as well as other non-violent emergencies. The legislation grants states enhanced federal Medicaid funding (a 95 percent federal match) for three years to provide community-based mobile crisis services to individuals experiencing a mental health or substance use abuse crisis. It also provides $25 million for planning grants to states to help establish or build out mobile crisis programs and funds multidisciplinary mobile crisis teams that are available 24/7, every day of the year, and trained in trauma-informed care, de-escalation, and harm reduction.

The bill is the House companion to legislation introduced by Senator Ron Wyden.

DeFazio also fought to ensure the American Rescue Plan, key COVID-19 relief legislation that was signed into law last week, included a critical down payment on providing communities with CAHOOTS-like services. The provision allows State Medicaid programs to be reimbursed by Medicaid for up to 85 percent of their service costs for such programming, with an initial $1 billion for those reimbursements.