Health

First Medicaid Mobile Mental Health Care Launched in Oregon

First Medicaid Mobile Mental Health Care Launched in Oregon
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Dive briefing:

  • Oregon will launch the nation’s first Medicaid-supported mobile crisis intervention program to provide stabilization services to people with mental health or substance use, including opioid use, the HHS announced. The program provides immediate assessment, stabilization and de-escalation assistance for people in crisis, and coordinates referrals to other social services, such as life skills training.
  • Immediate, appropriate behavioral health care can help reduce the risk of harm and the need for expensive inpatient services, according to the HHS. The initiative also allows law enforcement officers to focus more on responsible policing and less on work that should be handled by mental health counselors or social workers, the agency said.
  • Oregon was the first state to apply for and approve the new Medicaid option created through the Biden administration’s US bailout plan. HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra, in a statement announcing the approval, encouraged additional states to use the funding opportunity to expand access to crisis care.

Dive insight:

The mobile intervention program is part of President Joe Biden’s strategy to address the country’s mental health crisis, a steadily worsening problem that has become more acute during the COVID-19 pandemic. Biden made plans earlier this year to bolster the national crisis response infrastructure as part of his State of the Union agenda.

That strategy includes the move in July to the 988 crisis hotline, which replaced the 10-digit National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Community-based mobile crisis intervention services like Oregon’s are expected to support the 988 network of state and local call centers, the HHS said.

The US bailout plan, which became law last year, included $15 million in planning grants to help 20 state Medicaid agencies develop crisis care programs.

Oregon is the first of 20 states to receive planning grants to qualify for an 85% higher federal Medicaid match over the next three years to reimburse mobile crisis services delivered to Medicaid beneficiaries.

People across the state experiencing a mental health or substance use crisis can contact a behavioral health specialist 24 hours a day, any day of the year, according to the HHS.

“It’s critical to prioritize behavioral health treatments by bringing crisis care within reach of more Americans — in Oregon and beyond,” Becerra said.

The Biden administration has spent $432 million in fiscal year 2022 to support the 988 transition, scale the capacity of the crisis center and national backup centers, improve response rates and ensure calls are forwarded first to local, regional or national crisis call centers, the HHS said.

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