Jun 6, 2024 - Health

Medicaid expands mental health clinic funding

Illustration of a brain surrounded by medical crosses and lines

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A Medicaid experiment supporting comprehensive and crisis mental health care at community clinics is expanding to 10 new states.

Why it matters: The initiative provides sustainable funding to help clinics that serve low-income patients provide mental health and substance use treatment.

  • It's the first time new states have been added to the Medicaid demonstration since 2017, when it launched in eight states.

State of play: Alabama, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Rhode Island and Vermont will join the Medicaid test, the Biden administration announced this week.

Context: Certified community behavioral health centers offer outpatient mental health and substance use services, 24/7 crisis services, psychiatric rehabilitation services and other care to anyone, regardless of their ability to pay.

  • Almost 500 clinics now operate across 46 states. Those that aren't funded by the Medicaid demonstration can get separate operating grants from the Department of Health and Human Services.
  • The clinics serve roughly 3 million people, according to a new report from the National Council for Mental Wellbeing.

What's next: Ten more states in 2026 will be able to join the Medicaid program, which was expanded by the 2022 Bipartisan Safer Communities Act.

  • A bipartisan bill introduced in Congress last month would create a permanent Medicaid payment system for community behavioral health clinics and allow Medicare to pay for clinic services for older adults.
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