Arkansas state officials push for expansion of behavioral health services

The Arkansas Department of Human Services is finishing its updates to the state's current Medicaid program, including an expansion of care for recipients seeking mental and behavioral healthcare, the Arkansas Democrat Gazette reported Nov. 20. 

The expansion of services will improve access for Medicaid recipients to be screened and treated for mental, behavioral and intellectual health issues. The updates from ADHS follow a year of meetings with an unnamed task force focused on the state's current mental health crisis. 

ADHS proposes more reimbursement for providers giving preventive care and screenings, giving clinicians more oversight, reducing staffing shortages through state and federal funds, and recruiting non-professionals in similar fields to fill in for staffing needs under clinician supervision.

It also seeks additional reimbursement for assertive community treatment services, caregivers for adults with severe mental illness and intensive home care for children. 

The department said the mental health crisis in the state worsened as a result of the pandemic, according to the publication.

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