HHS puts $37M toward boosting behavioral health capacity

The Biden administration is putting nearly $37 million toward grant programs to improve access to behavioral health services across the country. CMS is also expanding the pool of behavioral health providers covered under Medicaid, HHS said in a Feb. 26 news release. 

Most of the grant funding opportunities are focused on community-based programs that are being issued through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The largest award, $10 million, is being put toward a screening, brief intervention and referral to treatment model in community settings. Grants totaling $8 million have been set aside for prevention technology transfer centers, which offer training and technical assistance to those working in substance misuse prevention in the community setting. A full breakdown of the funding can be viewed here

Separately, CMS has issued new guidance to state Medicaid directors that expands the pool of providers eligible for enhanced Medicaid funding to include master's-level behavioral healthcare providers, such as mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists. The new guidance also allows CMS funding to support nurse advice lines, which provide responses for mental health and substance misuse needs. 

The funding boost comes as health systems across the country continue to struggle with emergency department boarding and other capacity issues, which often stem from a lack of space available at long-term care facilities. 

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