Behavioral Health

Highlights from Kaiser/HMA 50-state Medicaid Director survey

This week, our In Focus section reviews highlights and shares key takeaways from the 22nd annual Medicaid Budget Survey conducted by The Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) and Health Management Associates (HMA). Survey results were released on October 25, 2022, in two new reports: How the Pandemic Continues to Shape Medicaid Priorities: Results from an Annual Medicaid Budget Survey for State Fiscal Years 2022 and 2023 and Medicaid Enrollment & Spending Growth: FY 2022 & 2023. The report was prepared by Elizabeth Hinton, Madeline Guth, Jada Raphael, Sweta Haldar, and Robin Rudowitz from the Kaiser Family Foundation and by Kathleen Giff­ordAimee Lashbrook, and Matt Wimmer from HMA; and Mike Nardone. The survey was conducted in collaboration with the National Association of Medicaid Directors (NAMD).

This survey reports on policies in place or planned for FY 2022 and FY 2023, including state experiences with policies adopted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The conclusions are based on information provided by the nation’s state Medicaid Directors.

Key Report Highlights

In the following sections, we highlight a few of the major findings from the reports. This is a fraction of what is covered in the 50-state survey reports, which include significant detail and findings on policy changes and initiatives related to delivery systems, health equity, benefits, telehealth, provider rates and taxes, and pharmacy. The reports also look at the opportunities, challenges, and priorities facing Medicaid programs.

Medicaid Enrollment and Spending Growth

The COVID-19 pandemic created significant implications for Medicaid. During this time, Medicaid enrollment has reached record highs due to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), enacted in March 2020, which authorized a 6.2 percentage point increase in the federal match rate, or Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP), retroactive to January 1, 2020, and until the Public Health Emergency (PHE) ends. The increase was available to states that meet certain “maintenance of eligibility” (MOE) requirements. Since the survey, the PHE was extended to mid-January 2023, somewhat delaying the anticipated effects described in survey.

Medicaid enrollment growth slowed to 8.4 percent in FY 2022, after a sharp increase in FY 2021 (11.2 percent). Almost all responding states reported that the MOE continuous enrollment requirement was the most significant factor driving FY 2022 enrollment growth. Responding states expect Medicaid enrollment growth to decline (-0.4 percent) in FY 2023, based largely on the assumption that the PHE and the related MOE requirements would end by mid-FY 2023. States anticipate larger declines as Medicaid redeterminations and renewals resume.

In FY 2022, total Medicaid spending is expected to reach a peak growth of 12.5 percent, with enrollment growth as the primary driver. For FY 2023, total spending growth is expected to slow to 4.2 percent, assuming slower enrollment growth after the unwinding of the PHE. State Medicaid spending grew by 9.9 percent in FY 2022 and is projected to increase by 16.3 percent in FY 2023 once enhanced federal fiscal relief expires. If the PHE is extended, state spending increases and enrollment decreases that states anticipated for FY 2023 could occur later.

Figure 1 – Percent Change in Medicaid Spending and Enrollment, FY 1998-23

SOURCE: FY 2022-2023 spending data and FY 2023 enrollment data are derived from the KFF survey of Medicaid officials in 50 states and DC conducted by Health Management Associates, October 2022. 49 states submitted survey responses by Oct. 2022; state response rates varied across questions. Historic data reflects growth across all 50 states and DC and comes from various sources.

Delivery Systems

  • Capitated managed care remains the predominant delivery system for Medicaid in most states. Forty-six states operated some form of Medicaid managed care (managed care organizations (MCOs) and/or primary care case management (PCCM)). Forty-one states contracted with risk-based MCOs. Of these, only Colorado and Nevada did not offer MCOs statewide. Only five states – Alaska, Connecticut, Maine, Vermont, and Wyoming – lacked a comprehensive Medicaid managed care model.
    • Thirty-four states, including Distrct of Columbia, operate MCOs only, five states operate PCCM programs only, and seven states operate both MCOs and a PCCM program.
    • Twenty-seven states contracted with one or more PHPs to provide Medicaid benefits, including behavioral health care, dental care, vision care, non-emergency medical transportation (NEMT), and long-term services and supports (LTSS).
  • Of the forty-one states that contracted with MCOs, 35 reported that 75 percent or more of their Medicaid beneficiaries were enrolled in MCOs as of July 1, 2022.

Figure 2 – MCO Managed Care Penetration Rates for Select Groups of Medicaid Beneficiaries as of July 1, 2022

SOURCE: KFF survey of Medicaid officials in 50 states and DC conducted by HMA, October 2022.

Medicaid Managed Care and Delivery System Changes

  • California, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, and New York reported expanding mandatory MCO enrollment for targeted populations.
  • Missouri and Ohio reported introducing specialized managed care programs for children with complex needs.
  • California, Nevada, and Tennessee indicated that they were carving in certain long-term services and supports (LTSS) into their managed care programs.
  • California and Ohio reported carving out pharmacy services in FY 2022 or FY 2023, respectively. The District of Columbia carved out emergency medical transportation from its MCO contracts in FY 2022.
  • Maine, North Carolina, Oregon, and Washington reported changes to their PCCM programs.
  • Virginia plans to implement Cardinal Care in FY 2023, merging the state’s two existing managed care programs: Medallion 4.0 (serving children, pregnant individuals, and adults) and Commonwealth Coordinated Care Plus (CCC Plus) (serving seniors, children and adults with disabilities, and individuals who require LTSS).
  • Forty-one states reported at least one specified delivery system and payment reform initiative (e.g. Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH), ACA Health Homes, Accountable Care Organization (ACO), Episode of Care Initiatives, All-Payer Claims Database (APCD)).

Health Equity

  • Twenty-five states reported using at least one specified strategy to improve race, ethnicity, and language (REL) data completeness. Of the 45 responding states, 16 states reported requiring MCOs and other applicable contractors to collect REL data, 12 states reported that eligibility, renewal materials, and/or applications explain how REL data will be used and/or why reporting these data are important, nine states reported linking Medicaid enrollment data with public health department vital records data, and eight states reported partnering with one or more health information exchanges (HIEs) to obtain additional REL data for Medicaid enrollees.
  • Twelve of 44 responding states reported at least one financial incentive tied to health equity in place in FY 2022. The vast majority of these incentives were in place in managed care arrangements (11 of 13). Within managed care arrangements, states most commonly reported linking or planning to link capitation withholds, pay for performance incentives, and/or state-directed provider payments to health equity-related quality measures. Only two states (Connecticut and Minnesota), reported a FFS financial incentive in FY 2022. Five additional states report plans to implement financial incentives linked to health equity in FY 2023.
  • Sixteen of 37 responding MCO states reported at least one specified health equity MCO requirement in place in FY 2022. The number of MCO states with at least one specified health equity MCO requirement in place is expected to grow significantly in FY 2023, from 16 to 25 states. Examples of MCO requirements to address health equity include having a health equity plan, designating a Health Equity Officer, and staff training on health equity and/or implicit bias.

Figure 3 – MCO Requirements to Address Health Equity, FYs 2022-23

SOURCE: KFF survey of Medicaid officials conducted by HMA, October 2022; n=37 states.

Benefits

  • Thirty-three states reported new or enhanced benefits in FY 2022 and 34 states are adding or enhancing benefits in FY 2023. Two states reported benefit cuts or limitations in FY 2022 and no states reported cuts or limitations in FY 2023.

Figure 4 – Select Categories of Benefit Enhancements or Additions, FYs 2022-23

SOURCE: KFF survey of Medicaid officials conducted by HMA, October 2022; Arkansas and Georgia did not respond.

  • Behavioral Health Services. States reported service expansions across the behavioral health care continuum, including institutional, intensive, outpatient, home and community-based, and crisis services. States reported addressing SUD outcomes, including coverage of opioid treatment programs, peer supports, and enhanced care management. At least ten states are expanding coverage of crisis services, which aim to connect Medicaid enrollees experiencing behavioral health crises to appropriate community-based care, including mobile crisis response services and crisis stabilization centers.
  • Pregnancy and Postpartum Services. In April 2022, a temporary option under ARPA to extend Medicaid postpartum coverage from 60 days to 12 months took effect. In addition to the states that took advantage of this eligibility change, some states are enhancing coverage of pregnancy and post-partum services. Nine states (California, District of Columbia, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, New Mexico, Nevada, Rhode Island, and Virginia) are adding coverage of services provided by doulas and seven states (Alabama, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Ohio, Oregon, and Vermont) are investing in the implementation or expansion of home visiting programs.
  • Preventive Services. Sixteen states reported expansions of preventive care in FY 2022 or FY 2023. For example, seven states are expanding services to prevent and/or manage diabetes, such as continuous glucose monitoring. Other reported preventive benefit enhancements relate to asthma services, vaccinations, and genetic testing and/or counseling.
  • Services Targeting Social Determinants of Health. Many states reported new and expanded benefits targeting social determinants of health. Twelve states reported new or expanded housing-related supports, as well as other services and programs tailored for individuals experiencing homelessness or at risk of being homeless.
  • Dental Services. Nine states are adding comprehensive adult dental coverage, while additional states report expanding specific dental services for adults.

Telehealth

  • Most states have or plan to adopt permanent Medicaid FFS telehealth expansions that will remain in place even after the pandemic, though some are considering guardrails on such policies. Nearly all responding states that contract MCOs reported that changes to FFS telehealth policies would also apply to MCOs.

Figure 5 – Changes to FFS Medicaid Telehealth Policy, FY 2022 or FY 2023

SOURCE: KFF survey of Medicaid officials conducted by HMA, October 2022; n=48 states.

  • Nearly all responding states added or expanded audio-only telehealth coverage in Medicaid in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Twenty-eight states reported that they newly added audio-only coverage while 19 states expanded existing coverage. Nearly all states reported audio-only coverage of mental health and substance use disorder (SUD) services. States least frequently reported audio-only coverage of home and community-based services (HCBS) and dental services. Two states (Mississippi and Wyoming) reported no coverage of audio-only telehealth for the services in question.
  • Telehealth utilization by Medicaid enrollees has been high during the pandemic but has decreased and/or leveled off more recently. States noted that telehealth utilization trends over time correspond to COVID-19 outbreaks, with higher utilization during COVID-19 surges and lower utilization when case counts are lower. In general, states reported that telehealth utilization was projected to continue at higher levels than before the pandemic, at least for some service categories.
  • Thirty-seven states (out of 47 responding) reported that behavioral health services were among those with the highest utilization. Additionally, a majority of states reported high utilization of evaluation and management (E/M) services and/or other physician/qualified health care professional office/outpatient services, including primary care.
  • States reported ACA expansion adults as one of the groups most likely to use telehealth (about one-third of responding states), followed by children and individuals with disabilities (each identified by about one-sixth of responding states).
  • Concerns regarding services delivered via telehealth included the quality of diagnoses, whether audio-only telehealth may be less effective, and inadequate access.
  • Key issues that may influence future Medicaid telehealth policy decisions include analysis of data, state legislation and federal guidance, and cost concerns.

Provider Rates and Taxes

  • In FY 2022, all 49 responding states reported implementing rate increases for at least one category of provider and 19 states reported implementing rate restrictions. In FY 2023, 48 states reported at least one planned rate increase and the number of states planning to restrict rates increased to 25 states.
  • States reported rate increases for nursing facilities and home and community-based services (HCBS) providers more often than other provider categories. The survey also found an increased focus on dental rates with about half of reporting states (20 in FY 2022 and 25 in FY 2023) reporting implementing or plans to implement a dental rate increase

Figure 6 – FFS Provider Rate Changes Implemented in FY 2022 and Adopted for FY 2023

SOURCE: KFF survey of Medicaid officials in 50 states and DC conducted by HMA, October 2022.

  • States continue to rely on provider taxes and fees to fund a portion of the non-federal share of Medicaid costs. All states but Alaska have at least one provider tax or fee in place. Thirty-eight states had three or more provider taxes in place in FY 2022 and eight other states had two provider taxes in place.
  • The most common Medicaid provider taxes in place in FY 2022 were taxes on nursing facilities (46 states), followed by taxes on hospitals (44 states), intermediate care facilities for individuals with intellectual disabilities (33 states), and MCOs (18 states).
  • Three states (Alabama, Mississippi, and Wyoming) reported plans to add new ambulance taxes in FY 2023.

Pharmacy

  • Most states that contract with MCOs report that the pharmacy benefit is carved into managed care (34 out of 41 states that contract with MCOs). Six states (California, Missouri, North Dakota, Tennessee, Wisconsin, and West Virginia) report that pharmacy benefits are carved out of MCO contracts as of July 1, 2022. California was the latest to carve out pharmacy benefits as of January 1, 2022. Two states (New York and Ohio) report plans to carve out pharmacy from MCO contracts in state FY 2023 or later.
  • In FY 2022, Kentucky began contracting with a single PBM for the managed care population. Louisiana and Mississippi report that they will require MCOs to contract with a single PBM designated by the state in FY 2023 and FY 2024, respectively.
  • Seven states (Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Massachusetts, Michigan, Oklahoma, and Washington) have value-based arrangements (VBAs) in place with one or more drug manufacturers.
  • More than half of responding states reported newly implementing or expanding at least one initiative to contain prescription drug costs in FY 2022 or FY 2023.
  • Six states (Florida, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Maryland, Nebraska, Nevada) reported recently implemented or planned policies to prohibit spread pricing or require pass through pricing in MCO contracts with PBMs.

Key Opportunities, Challenges, and Priorities in FY 2023 and Beyond

When asked to identify the top challenges for FY 2023 and beyond, Medicaid directors listed the following:

  • The unwinding of PHE emergency measures and the resumption of redeterminations.
  • Expiration of emergency authorities.
  • Lasting focus on COVID-19, including vaccinations, long-COVID, decreased utilization of preventive care services, and future emergency preparedness.

Medicaid directors stated that future priorities shaped by COVID-19 include:

  • Health equity.
  • Specific populations and service categories, including behavioral health, long-term services and supports, and maternal and child health.
  • Health care workforce challenges.
  • Payment and delivery system initiatives and operations.
  • IT system modernization.
  • Social determinants of health.

Medicaid directors note that COVID-19 has presented both new opportunities and challenges and has also shifted and shaped ongoing Medicaid priorities.

Links to Kaiser/HMA 50-State Survey Reports

SAMHSA releases CCBHC planning grants opportunity for states

Today, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) released the highly anticipated Cooperative Agreements for Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC) Planning Grants Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO). The NOFO can be found here.

The CCBHC model provides integrated and coordinated community-based care for individuals across the lifespan with and at risk for behavioral health conditions, with a focus on adults with serious mental illness, those with any mental illness, children with serious emotional disturbance, and those with substance use disorders. The model is designed to increase access to behavioral health services; provide a comprehensive range of services, including crisis services, that respond to local needs; incorporate evidence-based practices; and establish care coordination as a linchpin for service delivery. To date, CCBHCs have demonstrated[1]:

  • Significant reductions in client hospitalizations
  • Increased access to high quality community-based care, including services like Medication Assisted Treatment and care coordination
  • Reduced impact of the mental health and substance use care workforce shortage
  • Innovative and strengthened partnerships with cross-system partners, including law enforcement, schools, and hospitals

About the Planning Grants

These CCBHC Planning Grants are established to support states to develop and implement certification systems for CCBHCs, establish Prospective Payment Systems (PPS) for Medicaid reimbursable services, and prepare an application to participate in a four-year CCBHC Demonstration program. Through this opportunity, SAMHSA anticipates making 15 Planning Grant awards of up to $1 million per award. Awarded states will have 12 months to use their Planning Grant dollars to accomplish the following:

  • Solicit input for the development of a state CCBHC Demonstration program from consumers (including youth), family members, providers, tribes, and other key stakeholders.
  • Create and finalize application processes and review procedures for clinics to be certified as CCBHCs.
  • Assist clinics with meeting certification standards by:
    • facilitating access to training and technical assistance;
    • providing workforce supports, including assisting CCBHCs to improve the cultural diversity and competence of their workforce; and
    • facilitating cultural, procedural, and organizational changes to CCBHCs that will result in the delivery of high quality, comprehensive, person-centered, and evidence-based services that are accessible to the population(s) of focus.
  • Certify an initial set of clinics as CCBHCs, including those that represent diverse geographic areas, including rural and underserved areas. As an option, states can also develop a process for bringing additional clinics into the State CCBHC Demonstration program to reach the desired geographic spread by the end of the four-year CCBHC Demonstration.
  • Establish a PPS for behavioral health services furnished by a CCBHC in accordance with the original PPS Methodology Guidelines developed by CMS. A statement indicating that the State agrees to pay for services at the rate established under the PPS during the CCBHC. Demonstration program must be attached with the application.
  • Develop or enhance statewide data collection and reporting capacity.
  • Submit a proposal to participate in the CCBHC Demonstration Program no later than March 20, 2024.

The Planning Grant project period is anticipated to begin on March 30, 2023. As a Cooperative Agreement, SAMHSA anticipates having substantial federal programmatic participation, including providing input to selected states in the planning, implementation, and evaluation of the program.

These planning grants are the first phase of a two-phase process of the expansion of the CCBHC Demonstration, authorized by the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act.[2] Beginning July 1, 2024, and every two years thereafter, 10 states that have completed planning grants and submitted successful applications to participate in the CCBHC Demonstration will be eligible to join the program for a four-year period.

Eligibility to Apply

Eligibility for this Planning Grant opportunity is limited to the State Mental Health Authorities, Single State Agencies, or State Medicaid Agencies that are located in the 41 states, including the District of Columbia, that were not previously selected to participate in the CCBHC Demonstration Program. Regardless of which state entity ultimately serves as the applicant, each application must include a signed Memorandum of Agreement between the Director of the State Mental Health Authority, the Director of the Single State Agency, and the Director of the State Medicaid Agency demonstrating a partnership to fulfill the requirements of the award.

Updates to CCBHC Certification Criteria and PPS Guidance Expected but Not Before Application Deadline

Updates are expected to both the CCBHC Certification Criteria and PPS Guidance in the coming months, but the NOFO is clear that these updates will not be available during the application period for these Planning Grants. Specifically:

  • SAMHSA is in the process of updating the CCBHC Certification Criteria through a process which will include a significant opportunity for public comment. SAMHSA intends to keep the existing framework for the criteria, which is included in the authorizing statute. SAMHSA does not intend to make major changes to the scope and shape of the Certification Criteria.
  • CMS is also working to update the CCBHC PPS guidance. Any PPS changes will be made available prior to the planning grant execution period and included as part of technical assistance provided to states during the planning grant execution period.

Because neither of these updates will be released prior to the application submission deadline, applicants will use the existing CCBHC Criteria and PPS Guidance to inform their applications.

Next Steps for Interested State Stakeholders

Applications for this opportunity are due December 19, 2022 at 11:59 pm. Each application will be scored on their 30-page narrative submission, which includes significant emphasis on each applicant’s approach to CCBHC planning (including both certifying CCBHCs and establishing the PPS rates) and the state’s experience with the model to date (including the steps already taken to develop a CCBHC program in their state).

HMA and the National Council for Mental Wellbeing will host a joint webinar about this NOFO on Monday, November 7, 2022 at 1-2 pm ET. Register here.

In addition, in anticipation to the NOFO’s release, HMA and the National Council hosted a webinar on October 6, 2022, on “Developing a Strategy for the CCBHC State Demonstration RFP.” During this webinar, we engaged representatives from New York and Michigan to share information about their Demonstration program implementation to date. View the recording.

Should you have questions or want to learn more about HMA’s available support related to this and other CCBHC opportunities, contact Kristan McIntosh at kmcintosh@healthmanagement.com.  


[1] https://www.thenationalcouncil.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/22.06.06_HillDayAtHome_CCBHC_FactSheets.pdf

[2] https://www.congress.gov/117/plaws/publ159/PLAW-117publ159.pdf

Funding and strategies to address the youth behavioral health crisis

Communities across the country are seeing elevated numbers of adolescents in the Emergency Department due to suicide attempts, self-harm, anxiety, depression, substance use disorder (SUD), and overdose. While this youth mental health crisis predates COVID, it has been greatly exacerbated by the pandemic. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2019, 13% of adolescents reported having a major depressive episode, a 60% increase from 2007, and suicide rates rose nearly 60% for youth ages 10 to 24 by 2018[1]. Then it got worse. Last December, the U.S. surgeon general issued a public health advisory about the adolescent mental health crisis as emergency room visits due to suicide attempts rose 51% for adolescent girls in early 2021, compared to the same period in 2019. For boys, the increase was 4%[2].

The surgeon general recommends a “whole-of-society effort,” including a focus on mental health education and prevention, early identification, and access to high-quality mental healthcare.[3] School-based intervention is ideal because only 20% of students in need of more intensive services typically receive needed care when referred to external providers.[4]

The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act has committed $1.7 billion for mental health support in schools and communities via an array of methods including grant programs. The following programs are currently available for a wide array of eligible entities, including states, cities/counties, Local Education Agencies (LEAs), Indian tribes or tribal organizations, health facilities, and nonprofit entities:

  • Project AWARE (Advancing Wellness and Resiliency in Education).  This grant program provides up to $1.8 million per year for up to 4 years to develop a sustainable infrastructure for school-based mental health programs and services. Grant recipients are expected to build collaborative partnerships with the State Education Agency (SEA), LEA), Tribal Education Agency (TEA), the State Mental Health Agency (SMHA), community-based providers of behavioral health care services, school personnel, community organizations, families, and school-aged youth. Grant recipients will leverage their partnerships to implement mental health-related promotion, awareness, prevention, intervention, and resilience activities to ensure that students have access to and are connected to appropriate and effective behavioral health services.  Applications are due October 13th
    • Resiliency in Communities After Stress and Trauma (ReCAST). This program provides up to $1,000,000 a year for up to 4 years to promote resilience, trauma-informed approaches, and equity in communities that have recently faced civil unrest, community violence, and/or collective trauma within the past 24 months; and to assist high-risk youth and families through the implementation of evidence-based violence prevention, and community youth engagement programs. SAMHSA expects ReCAST to be guided by a community-based coalition of residents, non-profit organizations, and other entities (e.g., health and human service providers, schools, institutions of higher education, faith-based organizations, businesses, state and local government, law enforcement, and employment, housing, and transportation services agencies). Applications are due October 17th. 

In addition to these two grants, there will be an expansion of the Certified Community Behavioral Health Center (CCBHC) Demonstration for States that is expected to be released later this month. The Excellence in Mental Health Act[5] established a federal definition and criteria for CCBHCs. These centers are a provider type that delivers a comprehensive range of mental health and SUD services to vulnerable individuals. They meet people where they are, which can include school-based services, and act as a critical partner in ensuring people have access to quality, affordable, and accessible mental health care.

School-based Mental Health Services

School-based mental health services, delivered within a Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) framework, can be supported by the aforementioned funding opportunities. The MTSS framework is currently used in public schools to target services and supports to students. As shown below, MTSS addresses universal prevention and progressively targeted support for students and families. It also aligns well with partnerships with community providers to establish an authentic community response that addresses the continuum of mental health needs.

Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) framework

The key to a successfully implemented MTSS framework is a strong partnership between the school staff, parents/guardians, children, and community partners. This partnership works well when anchored to an evidence-based socio-emotional curriculum that is reinforced across all Tiers and familiar to all parties.

Suicide and Self Harm Prevention

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) was recently identified by the New York Times as “the Best Tool We Have’ for Self-Harming and Suicidal Teens,” because it is one of the only interventions found to reduce self-harm and suicidal ideation, its effects are maintained at one-year follow-up[6], and it successfully engages young people[7].

Curriculum developers Drs. Lizz Dexter-Mazza and James Mazza worked with Marsha Linehan, the DBT treatment developer, to adapt DBT Skills into a universal school-based social emotional learning curriculum, called DBT-STEPS-A. This approach is designed to help schools intervene and support well-being and resiliency before kids are suicidal or self-harming. It trains existing school personnel to integrate skill-building into the school program, universally or as a stand-alone option for youth in 6-12th grade (an elementary version is in development). As such, it is a viable approach, despite the current shortage of mental health care professionals in school-based settings.

In addition, DBT provides a shared language and strategies across all three MTSS tiers so that everyone (students, school staff, teachers, providers, and parents/guardians) can benefit. Because DBT is also commonly provided in inpatient, outpatient, and residential behavioral health programs, the value of extending this approach into school settings is further magnified for youth who transition from the highest levels of care.

A DBT STEPS-A program taught at the universal level provides the broadest application within school-based settings, supports uptake that leads to peer-to-peer coaching and support, along with shifting the school environment and culture to promote mental wellbeing and reinforce the skills via a shared language and common strategies. In Tier 2, students are supported to practice skills and decision-making strategies in smaller group or individual psychotherapy sessions as needed. The third tier is more intensive support for students experiencing ongoing emotional and behavioral difficulties for whom Tier 2–level support is not sufficient. It is designed to supplement individual psychotherapy for those in need of a higher level of care. Parent/guardian skills-training seminars are recommended, so they can learn about the skills their child is acquiring and how best to support them while they are practicing. Engaging parents/guardians proactively helps to increase adaption of the skills across both home and school contexts.

A matched sample of adolescents who received the DBT STEPS-A curriculum demonstrated lower scores on the BASC-2 Emotion Symptom Index and on the BASC-2 Internalizing Problems, indicating fewer mental health difficulties, compared to peers who did not receive the curriculum (Cohen’s F squared equal to 0.65 and 0.83, respectively[8].

The DBT curriculum is accessible via a $50 manual. All handouts for kids are available in English and Spanish and can be printed from a web-based link for free. An array of trainings are available to support rapid school-based service delivery.

To learn more about current and upcoming funding for enhanced school and community-based mental health care or DBT-STEPS-A, contact:

Heidi Arthur, Principal harthur@healthmanagement.com

Michael Butler, Principal mbutler@healthmanagement.com

You can also contact DBT in Schools, LLC for information about DBT-STEPS-A info@dbtinschools.com.


[1] National Vital Statistics reports – Centers for Disease Control and … (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr69/nvsr-69-11-508.pdf

[2] Richtel, M. (2021, December 7). Surgeon general warns of Youth Mental Health Crisis. The New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2021/12/07/science/pandemic-adolescents-depression-anxiety.html

[3] Protecting youth mental health – hhs.gov. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/surgeon-general-youth-mental-health-advisory.pdf

[4] Sheryl H. Kataoka, M.D., M.S.H.S., Lily Zhang, M.S., and Kenneth B. Wells, M.D., M.P.H. (2002). Unmet Need for Mental Health Care Among U.S. Children: Variation by Ethnicity and Insurance Status. The American Journal of Psychiatry: https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.ajp.159.9.1548

[5] Excellence in Mental Health Act. (2013, February 7). http://www.congress.gov/

[6] McCauley E, Berk MS, Asarnow JR, et al. Efficacy of Dialectical Behavior Therapy for Adolescents at High Risk for Suicide: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Psychiatry. 2018;75(8):777–785. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2018.1109 https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapsychiatry/fullarticle/2685324#:~:text=Given%20its%20effectiveness%20with%20adults,suicidal%20youths%20with%20promising%20results.&text=A%20recent%20RCT%20with%20self,1%2Dyear%20follow%2Dup.

[7] Rathus, Jill H. ( 2014). DBT skills manual for adolescents. New York :The Guilford Press,

[8] Elizabeth T. Dexter-Mazza, James J. Mazza, Alec L. Miller, Kelly Graling, Elizabeth Courtney-Seidler, and Dawn Cattuchi (2022). Application of DBT in a School-Based Setting. Pending publication

Bolstering the youth behavioral health system: innovative state policies to address access & parity

This week, our In Focus section highlights an HMA Issue Brief, Bolstering the Youth Behavioral Health System: Innovative State Policies to Address Access & Parity, published in August 2022. The brief examines policies aiming to advance access and availability of behavioral health services (encompassing mental health and substance use disorders) for youth. Below we explore opportunities for states to adopt levers to ensure access to the full continuum of children’s behavioral health services. States should consider developing a multi-faceted strategy to address accessibility issues including:

  • A policy mechanism for insurance coverage and funding for infrastructure, support and services across behavioral health, child welfare and Medicaid
  • A robust delivery system for provision of services
  • Comprehensive benefit design
  • A mechanism to monitor network adequacy, access, and parity

The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated rates of depression, anxiety, and other behavioral health issues among youth – with suicide now the second leading cause of death among ages 10-12. Pre-pandemic, 1 in 5 children experienced a mental health condition every year and only 54 percent of non-institutionalized youth enrolled in Medicaid or CHIP received mental health treatment. Between March 2020 to October 2020, mental health–related emergency department visits increased 24 percent among youth ages 5 to 11 and 31 percent among ages 12 to 17, compared with 2019 emergency department visits.

Youth covered by Medicaid and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and the Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic and Treatment (EPSDT) of the Medicaid Act require state Medicaid agencies to provide enrollees under age 21 with access to periodic and preventive screenings, and services that are necessary to “correct or ameliorate” medical conditions, including other additional health care services such as behavioral health conditions. It remains the responsibility of states to determine medical necessity on a case by-case basis. As of 2020, states are mandated to submit a CHIP state plan amendment to demonstrate compliance with the new behavioral health coverage provisions. However, behavioral health services are not a specifically defined category of benefits in federal Medicaid law and coverage of many services is at state discretion. The 2008 Mental Health Parity and Equity Act (MHPAEA) requires that Medicaid managed care and private health insurers who do reimburse for behavioral health services provide behavioral health benefits to cover mental health and substance use services that is no more restrictive than the coverage generally available for medical and surgical benefits. While MHPAEA was designed to reduce inequities in coverage between behavioral and physical health services, it does not reduce inequities in reimbursement as payers are not required to cover behavioral health services.

Ambitious efforts are underway to prioritize behavioral health services for youth. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently called for states to prioritize and maximize efforts to strengthen youth mental health. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) and Children’s Hospital Association declared a national emergency in children’s mental health. In addition, passage of the Bipartisan Safer Communities legislation includes significant funding for mental health screening, expansion of community behavioral health center (CCBHC) model; improving access to mental health services for children, youth, and families through the  Medicaid program and CHIP; increasing access to mental health services for youth and families in crisis via telehealth; and investments to expand provider training in mental health, supporting suicide prevention, crisis and trauma intervention, and recovery.

Click here to read the Issue Brief.

For questions, please contact:

Caitlin Thomas-Henkel
Uma Ahluwalia
Devon Schechinger
Debbi Witham

Innovative state policy solutions to enhance the youth behavioral health system

With suicide now the second leading cause of death among children, adolescents, and young adults (aged 15-24 years old) in the United States, it is apparent that the COVID-19 pandemic has not only exacerbated rates of depression and anxiety, but also illuminated the fractures in our youth behavioral health system. In response, states are focusing on ways to advance policies that aim to expand coverage for youth mental health services.

Individuals suffering from mental health conditions or substance use disorders (SUDs) face many challenges accessing care and often do not seek treatment. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data found 1 in 5 children were diagnosed with a mental health disorder, yet only 20% of those children received appropriate care.

In the past two years, over 100 laws in at least 38 states have been enacted with a focus on supporting schools to act as a primary access point for youth behavioral health care. At least half of all states are applying the co-location approach, where both types of care are delivered at the same site, to better integrate physical and behavioral health care. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation report, more than four-fifths of states launched initiatives related to screening for behavioral health needs, an effective strategy for Medicaid to connect those with behavioral health needs to the appropriate services.

Medicaid plays a pivotal role as the largest payer of behavioral health services, including both mental health and SUD services.  Efforts to address these issues have been a focus in Medicaid at the federal level, including in the 2018 SUPPORT Act and more recently in the 2021 American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), which provided enhanced Medicaid funding for certain behavioral health providers and mobile crisis services. The Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) under the Biden Administration has highlighted behavioral health policy and investments as a federal Medicaid priority.

During National Mental Health Awareness Month, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) called for states to prioritize and maximize efforts to strengthen youth mental health and detailed HHS’ plans to support state-wide coordination across federal funding streams to expand youth mental health services. This blog highlights California’s approach and spotlights other states’ efforts to bolster the children’s behavioral health system.

State Strategies to Strengthen the Youth Behavioral Health System

There has been significant work underway in California for years to address youth behavioral health services, but up until recently it did not include substantial investments to redesign the mental health system for youth, and families. California exemplifies ways to leverage policy levers and make significant state investments to cultivate and strengthen the youth behavioral health system. 

In 2021, Californiaenacted groundbreaking legislation by making significant investments to reimagine its youth behavioral health system. The Children and Youth Behavioral Health Initiative is a $4.4B investment intended to enhance, expand, and redesign the systems that support behavioral health for youth, children and families. This initiative, administered by the California Health and Human Services Agency and its departments, aims to evolve California’s behavioral health system in which all children (25 years of age and younger) regardless of payer, are served for new and existing behavioral health needs.

This multi-year strategy seeks to enhance and redesign the current behavioral health system by integrating behavioral health into physical health, education, and other areas that support children and families. With a stronger focus on prevention and early intervention, the Initiative will distribute school-linked partnership, capacity, and infrastructure grants to support implementation of the initiative for behavioral health services in schools and school-linked settings.

The Initiative will also provide incentive payments to qualifying Medi-Cal (Medicaid) managed care plans to establish interventions that expand access to preventive, early intervention, and behavioral health services for children in publicly funded childcare and preschool, as well as pre-K-12 children in public schools. Also included are efforts to submit a State Plan Amendment to incorporate the dyadic services benefit under Medi-Cal, whereby screening for behavioral health problems, interpersonal safety, tobacco and substance misuse and social determinants of health are provided for the child and caregiver or parent during medical visits. A key piece of the Initiative stipulates that every component outlined in the Children and Youth Behavioral Health Initiative Act may only be implemented if the Department of Health Care Services confirms that federal financial participation under the Medi-Cal program will not be jeopardized. Indeed, the intricate design and implementation of the Initiative would not be possible without partnerships from other State agencies, education stakeholders, subject matter experts, and community partners to deliveressential services from prevention to treatment and recovery.

California’s commitment to address youth behavioral health services at a statewide level illustrates the various efforts emerging across the country.  California is one state that is advancing multi-faceted strategies through legislation and Medicaid, but other states have used various Medicaid authorities including 1115 demonstrations, State Plan Amendments (SPAs), and 1915(c) Waivers to remove accessibility roadblocks and enhance youth behavioral health services. States have taken a variety of approaches in their commitments to bolster the system of care around the country that include:

  • New York amended its state plan amendment to expand the EPSDT benefit to enable a greater focus on prevention, early intervention, and expansion of behavioral health services. 
  • New Jersey amended its state plan to make Mobile Response and Stabilization Services (MRSS) for youth up to age 21 reimbursable under Medicaid’s EPSDT benefit.
  • Ohio RISE (Resilience through Integrated Systems and Excellence) for youth with complex behavioral health needs was enacted through a Medicaid 1915c waiver. Through this program, a single managed care organization provides new, targeted behavioral health services and intensive care coordination
  • Washington State passed the Behavioral Health Emergency Services legislation E2SHB 1688 (Chap. 263, Laws of 2022) to ensure coverage for all emergency behavioral health services (adult and children) to protect consumers from charges for out-of-network health care services by addressing coverage of emergency BH services.

Moving Ahead

States can combine the power of their policy levers along with the cascade of forthcoming federal dollars to strengthen the youth mental health system of care. The Bipartisan Safer Communities legislation includes significant funding for mental health screening, among other critical services. The Bipartisan legislation seeks to foster the tremendous opportunity for states and schools to increase behavioral health capacity for students and mental health professionals, evidenced by the School Based Mental Health Services (SBMHS) Grant Program, the School Based Mental Health Service Professionals Demonstration Grant, and several other investments for supportive services in schools.

Ensuring equitable access to a plethora of high-quality behavioral health services for youth requires the individual and collective commitment of states. The children’s mental health crisis has reached unprecedented levels and the opportunity for states to lead by example has arrived. Fortunately, states have significant tools to address the youth mental health crisis through the design and deployment of innovative policies and mission-aligned collaborations. Federal funds and state policy levers will help advance a robust and accessible children’s behavioral health system. As our communities work to rebuild in a post-pandemic world, states have the unique opportunity to provide today’s youth with compassion, essential behavioral health resources, and integrated systems to meet them where they are.

For additional information, please read our Bolstering the Youth Behavioral Health System: Innovative State Policies to Address Access & Parity brief, which explores state policy levers to advance access and availability of behavioral health services (encompassing mental health and substance use disorders) for youth.

Early bird registration discount expires July 11 for HMA conference on the future of publicly sponsored healthcare, October 10-11 in Chicago

Be sure to register for HMA’s 2022 Conference by Monday, July 11, to get the special early bird rate of $1,695 per person. After July 11, the rate is $1,895.

Nearly 40 industry speakers, including health plan executives, state Medicaid directors, and providers, are confirmed for HMA’s The New Normal: How Medicaid, Medicare, and Other Publicly Sponsored Programs Are Shaping the Future of Healthcare in a Time of Crisis conference, October 10-11, at the Fairmont Chicago, Millennium Park.

In addition to keynote sessions featuring some of the nation’s top Medicaid and Medicaid executives, attendees can choose from multiple breakout and plenary sessions on behavioral health, dual eligibles, healthcare investing, technology-enabled integrated care, social determinants of health, eligibility redeterminations, staffing, senior care, and more.

There will also be a Pre-Conference Workshop on The Future of Payment Reform: Delivering Value, Managing Risk in Medicare and Medicaid, on Sunday, October 9.

Visit our website for complete details: https://conference.healthmanagement.com/ or contact Carl Mercurio at cmercurio@healthmanagement.com.  Group rates and sponsorships are available. The last HMA conference attracted 500 attendees.

State Medicaid Speakers to Date (In alphabetical order)

  • Cristen Bates, Interim Medicaid Director, CO Department of Healthcare Policy & Financing
  • Jacey Cooper, Medicaid Director, Chief Deputy Director, California Department of Health Care Services
  • Kody Kinsley, Secretary, North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services
  • Allison Matters Taylor, Medicaid Director, Indiana
  • Dave Richard, Deputy Secretary, North Carolina Medicaid
  • Debra Sanchez-Torres, Senior Advisor, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • Jami Snyder, Director, Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System
  • Amanda Van Vleet, Associate Director, Innovation, NC Medicaid Strategy Office, North Carolina Department of Health & Human Services

Medicaid Managed Care Speakers to Date (In alphabetical order)

  • John Barger, National VP, Dual Eligible and Medicaid Programs, Humana, Inc.
  • Michael Brodsky, MD, Medical Director, Behavioral Health and Social Services, L.A. Care Health Plan
  • Aimee Dailey, President, Medicaid, Anthem, Inc.
  • Rebecca Engelman, EVP, Medicaid Markets, AmeriHealth Caritas
  • Brent Layton, President, COO, Centene Corporation
  • Andrew Martin, National Director of Business Development (Housing+Health), UnitedHealth Group
  • Kelly Munson, President, Aetna Medicaid
  • Thomas Rim, VP, Product Development, AmeriHealth Caritas
  • Timothy Spilker, CEO, UnitedHealthcare Community & State
  • Courtnay Thompson, Market President, Select Health of SC, an AmeriHealth Caritas Company
  • Ghita Worcester, SVP, Public Affairs & Chief Marketing Officer, UCare
  • Mary Zavala, Director, Enhanced Care Management, L.A. Care Health Plan

Provider Speakers to Date (In alphabetical order)

  • Daniel Elliott, MD, Medical Director, Christiana Care Quality Partners, eBrightHealth ACO, ChristianaCare Health System
  • Taylor Nichols, Director of Social Services, Los Angeles Christian Health Centers
  • Abby Riddle, President, Florida Complete Care; SVP, Medicare Operations, Independent Living Systems
  • David Rogers, President, Independent Living Systems
  • Mark Sasvary, Chief Clinical Officer, CBHS, IPA, LLC
  • Jim Sinkoff, Deputy Executive Officer, CFO, SunRiver Health
  • Tim Skeen, Senior Corporate VP, CIO, Sentara Healthcare
  • Efrain Talamantes, SVP & COO, Health Services, AltaMed Health Services Corporation

Featured Speakers to Date (In alphabetical order)

  • Drew Altman, President and CEO, Kaiser Family Foundation
  • Cindy Cota, Director of Managed Medicaid Growth and Innovation, Volunteers of America
  • Jesse Hunter, Operating Partner, Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe
  • Bryant Hutson, VP, Business Development, MedArrive
  • Martin Lupinetti, President, CEO, HealthShare Exchange (HSX)
  • Todd Rogow, President, CEO, Healthix
  • Joshua Traylor, Senior Director, Health Care Transformation Task Force
  • James Whittenburg, CEO, TenderHeart Health Outcomes
  • Shannon Wilson, VP, Population Health & Health Equity, Priority Health; Executive Director, Total Health Care Foundation

Quality standards in addiction care

Across the healthcare landscape, quality standards are in place to ensure patients are receiving safe, appropriate, evidence-based, and standardized care that is tailored to their individual needs and symptomology.   

A significant gap has long existed in the treatment of substance use disorders (SUD), as there was no standardized method to provide treatment based on an individual’s needs at that moment, meaning people seeking treatment often received care that was either too intense or not intense enough, preventing them from attaining sustained recovery.

To create standardized treatment protocols and build additional credibility around programs, the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) developed criteria based on a holistic, multidimensional assessment[1] to determine what level of care (LOC) an individual needs. This development was revolutionary as it was the first time the field agreed on established criteria. After 35 years of improvement and refinement, the ASAM Criteria has become the national standard.

Learn More about ASAM Level of Care Certification

While many providers have adopted the ASAM criteria, and most regulators and payers require its use to determine the LOC a person may need, a significant gap still persists in ensuring services are delivered with fidelity to the criteria. As a result, those seeking treatment for themselves or a loved one continue to face challenges identifying a setting that provides evidence-based treatment focused on their specific needs. 

To close this gap, ASAM partnered with CARF International, the leading accreditor of behavioral health services, to develop criteria that demonstrates providers are, in fact, delivering the LOC for which they are admitting persons. Programs that are providing levels of residential care can be certified for three levels including: 3.7- Medically Monitored Intensive Inpatient Services, 3.5- Clinically Managed High  Intensity Residential Services, and 3.1- Clinically Managed Low Intensity Residential Services.

By achieving the ASAM LOC certification, residential treatment programs can establish themselves as high quality SUD providers and ensure future program licensing as well as future funding from states, and private and public payors. This certification demonstrates that facilities are delivering the appropriate care to the appropriate person at the appropriate time. 

Preparing for certification is different from preparing for licensure in that a program must take an in-depth look at their clinical practice to ensure alignment with the ASAM criteria.

Because of our long and proven track record of helping clients prepare for, and secure, NCQA, AAAHC and URAC accreditation as well as deep expertise in SUD programs and treatment, HMA was selected by ASAM as a preferred partner to provide technical assistance and usher programs through the certification process as well as help address shortfalls and gaps in programs and care.

Our team has the right mix of clinical and operational knowledge, training, and frontline experience to guide clients through the certification process and help build better systems of care and accountability from the ground up.

HMA has the depth and breadth of services across the healthcare spectrum, and we are uniquely positioned to help organizations address gaps identified in the certification process and improve care by ensuring services are delivered in fidelity to the LOC at which a person presents.

HMA’s Institute on Addiction is also able to provide a full complement of services and support to residential providers including ASAM LOC clinical expertise, developing policies and procedures, building and operationalizing clinical programs, and improving revenue cycle, operations, and as well as payor contracting strategies.

Certification is really step number one. Utilizing HMA’s “Survey Ready Model,” we will identify ways to build quality into everyday practice allowing programs to stay on top of – and ahead of – requirements. 


[1] https://www.asam.org/asam-criteria/about-the-asam-criteria

Oklahoma to transition to Medicaid Managed Care

This week, our In Focus section reviews a new Oklahoma law to implement Medicaid managed care by October 1, 2023. The law, signed by Governor Kevin Stitt on May 26, 2022, requires the state to issue a request for proposals and to award at least three Medicaid managed care contracts to health plans or provider-led entities like accountable care organizations.

Provider-led entities would receive preferential treatment, with at least one targeted to receive a contract. However, if no provider-led entity submits a response, the state will not be required to contract with one.

Goals of the legislation include:

  • Improve health outcomes for Medicaid members and the state as a whole;
  • Ensure budget predictability through shared risk and accountability;
  • Ensure access to care, quality measures, and member satisfaction;
  • Ensure efficient and cost-effective administrative systems and structures; and
  • Ensure a sustainable delivery system that is a provider-led effort and that is operated and managed by providers to the maximum extent possible.

Plans would provide physical health, behavioral health, and prescription drug services. Covered beneficiaries would include traditional Medicaid members and the state’s voter-approved expansion population, but not the aged, blind, and disabled population eligible for SoonerCare.

Plans will need to contract with at least one local Oklahoma provider organization for a model of care containing care coordination, care management, utilization management, disease management, network management, or another model of care as approved by OHCA.

Oklahoma will also issue separate RFPs for a Medicaid dental benefit manager plan and a Children’s Specialty plan.

Background

Oklahoma currently does not have a fully capitated, risk-based Medicaid managed care program. The majority of the state’s more than 1.2 million Medicaid members are in SoonerCare Choice, a Primary Care Case Management (PCCM) program in which each member has a medical home. Other programs include SoonerCare Traditional (Medicaid fee-for-service), SoonerPlan (a limited benefit family planning program), and Insure Oklahoma (a premium assistance program for low-income people whose employers offer health insurance). Prior efforts to transition to Medicaid managed care have encountered roadblocks, starting in 2017 with a failed attempt to move aged, blind, and disabled members to managed care.

More recently, in June 2021, the Oklahoma Supreme Court struck down a planned transition of the state’s traditional Medicaid program to managed care, ruling that the Oklahoma Health Care Authority does not have the authority to implement the program without legislative approval.

Contracts had been awarded to Blue Cross Blue Shield of Oklahoma, Humana, Centene/Oklahoma Complete Health, and UnitedHealthcare. Centene/Oklahoma Complete Health also won an award for the SoonerSelect Specialty Children’s Health Plan program, covering foster children, juvenile justice-involved individuals, and children either in foster care or receiving adoption assistance.

Link to Senate Bill 1337

Behavioral health crises drive bipartisan action in Congress

Agreement about the severity of the nation’s mental health and substance use disorder crises is rising above the partisan politics in Congress. In fact, these are among a handful of issues driving work on bipartisan legislation across all the key House and Senate committees with jurisdiction over behavioral health programs and policies this year.

On May 18, the U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee unanimously approved the “Restoring Hope for Mental Health and Well-Being Act of 2022” (H.R. 7666). This legislation incorporates a collection of bipartisan bills to update and reauthorize over 30 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) programs addressing the mental health and substance use disorder (SUD) crisis. The bill also advances initiatives to strengthen the 9-8-8 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline implementation efforts, invest in the crisis response continuum of care, and support strategic opioid crisis response plans among numerous other policies. Energy and Commerce is one of several House committees planning to advance behavioral health bills this year.

U.S. Senate committee leaders have been similarly engaged in developing bipartisan proposals to address mental health and substance use disorders. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) and Finance committee leaders are expected to reveal their proposals as soon as this summer. The Finance Committee’s proposal will focus on Medicare, Medicaid, and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) policies and could reflect findings from the committee’s report, “Mental Health Care in the United States: The Case for Federal Action.” Similarly, HELP members Sens. Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA) introduced the Mental Health Reform Reauthorization Act to extend several expiring mental health programs, which could be incorporated in that Committee’s comprehensive proposal. Across committees, there has been an interest in strengthening parity, supporting integration of primary and behavioral health care, increasing access to youth mental health screenings, scheduling fentanyl analogues, and easing requirements for prescribing Medication Assisted Treatment.

What To Expect

Congressional leaders have consistently expressed their desire to advance bipartisan legislation to address the urgent needs and gaps in the mental health and SUD care delivery systems, as well as support education and research.  While these are key areas to watch, the diminishing number of legislative days on the congressional calendar and climate surrounding November’s mid-term elections create uncertainty for the timing and scope of Congress’ work. It remains to be seen whether a package of health care proposals, such as reauthorization of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s user fee programs, the Cures 2.0 legislation to advance biomedical research, mental health and substance use disorder legislation, and the PREVENT Act could be sent to President Biden’s desk before the end of September.

HMA companies are supporting clients impacted by the policy changes being discussed and the program funding addressed in these legislative proposals. Understanding the landscape for federal change allows state and local governments and stakeholders to plan for and shape these opportunities. For more information, please contact Andrea Maresca, Principal, Federal Policy, HMA; Matt Gallivan, Director, Leavitt Partners; and Laura Pence, Director, Leavitt Partners.

President’s Budget Recommends Significant Investments in Unity Agenda Issues

This week, our In Focus section reviews President Biden’s budget proposal for federal fiscal year 2023, released on March 28, 2022. The President’s proposal kicks off the Congressional budget process and negotiations on the annual spending bills for the federal fiscal year that starts October 1, 2022. The budget proposal highlights the Administration’s program initiatives and recommended legislative and regulatory changes. The President’s budget is merely a request of Congress, who drafts the actual budget resolution that will go into effect if passed.

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