CMS Investing $15M in Medicaid Mobile Health Crisis Intervention

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CMS is seeding innovations in how first responders can deliver on-scene behavioral health crisis services.


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The rescue plan funds will be used by state Medicaid programs and community health groups to develop mobile health intervention services for people experiencing a behavioral health or opioid use disorder crisis.


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By Eric Wicklund

September 21, 2021 – Federal authorities are awarding $15 million in rescue plan funding to 20 states to help expand mobile health intervention services for Medicaid patients in crisis.

The planning grants, administered through the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, will help state Medicaid agencies and community health organizations develop emergency intervention services for people experiencing a mental health or substance abuse disorder crisis. This may include the use of mHealth apps or telehealth services to connect those in crisis to a behavioral health specialist or other care provider.

“With these grants, CMS is taking strides to connect individuals in crisis with the high-quality, expert care they need. Providing behavioral health care experts as alternatives to police is an example of how we can better help communities deliver on the behavioral health needs of all its residents,” CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure said in a press release.

Programs like this are designed to connect people to healthcare providers during an emergency, rather than using police intervention or transports to a jail or hospital. In some instances police and EMS units are provided with tablets or apps to connect with care providers at the scene for a virtual consult, while other programs create multi-disciplinary teams capable of responding in person or via connected health channels.

The interventions are designed to not only take pressure off of police to deal with mental health emergencies, but to improve access to care and speed up treatment for people in crisis.

The funding will be used to develop and launch Medicaid-based 24-hour community-based mobile crisis intervention services, offering training and technical assistance.

States receiving the grants are Alabama, California, Colorado, Delaware, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, New Mexico, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Utah, Vermont, Wisconsin and West Virginia.

Officials say all states should be eligible for a temporarily enhanced matching rate for implementing a qualified community-based mobile crisis intervention option in the Medicaid programs by April 2022.

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