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New Medicaid Option Treats Mental Health and Substance Abuse Disorders

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) are working with states to promote access to Medicaid services for people with mental health and substance use disorder (SUD) crises. States have a new option for supporting community-based mobile crisis intervention services for individuals with Medicaid. 

Mobile crisis intervention services are essential tools to meet people in crisis where they are and rapidly provide critical services to people experiencing mental health or substance use crises by connecting then to a behavioral health specialist 24 hours per day, 365 days a year. This new option will help states integrate these services into their Medicaid programs, a critical component in establishing a sustainable and public health-focused support network.

“States now have an opportunity through their Medicaid programs to expand behavioral health support in their communities," said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. "Where needed, behavioral health experts, not law enforcement, should be the first responders to mental health and substance misuse crises.” 

This new Medicaid option also offers flexibility for states to design programs that work for their communities, allowing states to apply for this new option under several Medicaid authorities.

The new Medicaid option requires that crisis response teams include one qualified behavioral health care professional who is able to provide an assessment within scope of practice requirements under state law. States can add other professionals and paraprofessionals with expertise in substance use and/or mental health crisis response. The teams are tasked with providing screening and assessment; stabilization and de-escalation; and coordination with and referrals to health, social and other services, as needed.