8 Steps You Can Take TODAY to Boost Your CMHC/CCBHC Revenue

Maximizing and Stabilizing Revenue Streams for CMHCs and CCBHCs

Community Mental Health Centers (CMHCs) and Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHCs) play a vital role in providing mental health and substance use disorder services. However, managing financial stability in these organizations can be challenging due to varying funding sources and evolving healthcare policies. This article explores insightful ideas on how CMHCs and CCBHCs get paid and proposes changes they can implement to maximize and stabilize their revenue streams.

Understanding the Revenue Landscape

CMHCs and CCBHCs typically receive funding from several sources:

Medicaid and Medicare: These programs are primary payers for services rendered by CMHCs and CCBHCs. CCBHCs, in particular, benefit from the prospective payment system (PPS), which provides a fixed amount per patient, adjusted for specific factors.

State and Federal Grants: Various grants are available to support mental health and substance use disorder services. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is a significant contributor.

Private Insurance: Reimbursements from private insurers can also constitute a portion of the revenue, although these payments can be less predictable than government funding.

Patient Payments: Direct payments from patients, including sliding scale fees based on income, contribute to the revenue but often cover only a fraction of costs.

Strategies for Maximizing and Stabilizing Revenue

1. Optimize Medicaid and Medicare Billing

Ensuring accurate and timely billing for Medicaid and Medicare services is crucial. This involves staying updated with the latest billing codes and guidelines, which can change frequently. Comprehensive electronic health record (EHR) systems can help streamline the billing process, reducing errors and denials.

What makes this difficult: The constant updates to billing codes and regulations require continuous staff training and system updates. Additionally, dealing with billing errors and denials can be time-consuming and resource-intensive.

A First Step You Can Take Today: Start by conducting a billing audit to identify common errors and areas for improvement. This will give you a clearer picture of where your billing process needs the most attention.

2. Expand Telehealth Services

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of telehealth. Offering telehealth services allows CMHCs and CCBHCs to reach remote or underserved populations, providing care that might otherwise be inaccessible. Telehealth also tends to have lower overhead costs compared to in-person visits.

What makes this difficult: Implementing telehealth requires investment in technology and training for both providers and patients. Additionally, reimbursement rates for telehealth services can vary, and not all services are covered equally compared to in-person visits.

A First Step You Can Take Today: Begin by assessing your current technology infrastructure and identify gaps that need to be addressed for telehealth implementation. Explore solutions like Mend that include one-click access for your patients, so they don’t need apps or usernames or passwords to access your care.

3. Diversify Funding Sources

Relying heavily on a single funding source can be risky. CMHCs and CCBHCs should explore additional grants and alternative funding opportunities. Engaging with local businesses, community organizations, and philanthropic entities can open new revenue streams.

What makes this difficult: Identifying and securing alternative funding sources requires significant effort and resources. Grant applications can be highly competitive, and building relationships with potential donors takes time and persistence.

A First Step You Can Take Today: Research and create a list of potential grants and funding opportunities available to CMHCs and CCBHCs. Assign a team member to monitor deadlines and requirements for these opportunities.

4. Implement Value-Based Care Models

Transitioning from fee-for-service to value-based care models can provide more stable and predictable revenue. Value-based models focus on patient outcomes rather than the volume of services provided, encouraging efficient and effective care. Programs like the CMS Quality Payment Program offer incentives for practices that improve care quality while reducing costs.

What makes this difficult: Moving to a value-based care model requires a shift in organizational culture and processes. It involves extensive data tracking and reporting to measure outcomes and demonstrate value, which can be resource-intensive.

A First Step You Can Take Today: Begin by identifying one or two outcome measures that are most relevant to your practice. Start tracking these measures and review the data regularly to identify trends and areas for improvement.

5. Improve Patient Engagement and Retention

Ensuring patients keep their appointments and complete their treatment plans not only improves health outcomes but also enhances revenue through consistent service delivery. Automated reminders, patient education, and follow-up systems can significantly reduce no-show rates.

What makes this difficult: Engaging patients consistently can be challenging, especially for those with severe mental health issues or unstable living situations. Implementing and maintaining engagement tools and systems requires ongoing effort and investment.

A First Step You Can Take Today: Implement a simple system of reminder calls or texts for upcoming appointments. This can be done manually or with the help of software solutions like Mend, which are uniquely designed SOLELY for mental & behavioral healthcare.

6. Leverage Data Analytics

Utilizing data analytics can help identify trends, forecast financial performance, and optimize resource allocation. By understanding patterns in patient visits, billing, and reimbursements, CMHCs and CCBHCs can make informed decisions to enhance revenue streams.

What makes this difficult: Setting up a robust data analytics system requires significant upfront investment in technology and skilled personnel. Additionally, ensuring data accuracy and integrating data from various sources can be complex.

A First Step You Can Take Today: Start by using basic tools like spreadsheets to track key performance indicators (KPIs). Identify the most critical data points that impact your revenue and begin monitoring them regularly.

7. Strengthen Community Partnerships

Building strong relationships with local hospitals, schools, and social service agencies can lead to referral agreements and collaborative care models. These partnerships can ensure a steady stream of patients and potentially new funding opportunities through joint initiatives.

What makes this difficult: Developing and maintaining these partnerships takes time and effort. It requires effective communication and coordination, and sometimes competing interests can make collaboration challenging.

A First Step You Can Take Today: Reach out to one local organization that aligns with your mission and explore opportunities for collaboration. This initial step can pave the way for more extensive partnerships.

8. Advocate for Policy Support

Engaging in advocacy efforts at the state and federal levels can help shape policies that support sustainable funding for CMHCs and CCBHCs. Joining associations like the National Council for Mental Wellbeing can amplify these efforts and provide access to valuable resources.

What makes this difficult: Advocacy requires a deep understanding of the legislative process and effective communication skills. It often involves long-term efforts with uncertain outcomes, and smaller organizations may lack the resources to engage in sustained advocacy work effectively.

A First Step You Can Take Today: Join a relevant professional association or advocacy group. These organizations can provide valuable resources and support your advocacy efforts.


  1. “Prospective Payment Systems for CCBHCs” – SAMHSA
  2. “Grants and Funding Opportunities” – SAMHSA
  3. “The Growth of Telehealth Amid COVID-19” – Health Affairs
  4. “CMS Quality Payment Program” – CMS
  5. “Advocacy Resources” – National Council for Mental Wellbeing

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