Nov 17, 2023 - News

NC to increase behavioral health reimbursement rates

Illustration of a health plus-shaped price tag with dollar signs printed on it.

Illustration: Gabriella Turrisi/Axios

Medicaid reimbursement rates for mental health, substance use, disability and traumatic brain injury treatments will increase for the first time in a decade, North Carolina's Department of Health and Human Services announced Tuesday.

Why it matters: The change, effective Jan. 1, will bring more health care workers into the fold and increase access to behavioral health care, state health officials predict.

The big picture: The announcement also comes just weeks before the state is set to expand Medicaid, which will add hundreds of thousands more North Carolinians to state health care insurance rolls.

What they're saying: "The old reimbursement rates are inadequate; meaning, behavioral health practitioners, including psychiatrists, can't cover the costs of providing care to individuals covered by Medicaid," NCDHHS Chief Psychiatrist Carrie Brown said in a statement.

  • "This change will help to recruit and retain more behavioral health providers, including physicians, psychologists and other licensed professionals like clinical social workers, into the public behavioral health system in North Carolina."

By the numbers: An investment of $835 million in the latest state budget will fund the rate increases, along with other behavioral health services.

  • Reimbursement rates for inpatient behavioral health will increase by 30%, for example, and psychiatric diagnostic evaluation reimbursement rates will nearly double.

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