Biden-Harris Administration Announces New Funding to Increase Capacity for Behavioral Health Services

Biden-Harris Administration Announces New Funding to Increase Capacity for Behavioral Health Services

SAMSHA Announces $36.9 Million in Behavioral Health Funding Opportunities CMS Issues Guidance Expanding the Availability of Enhanced Medicaid Funding for Behavioral Health Care Providers

Today, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), announced $36.9 million in notices of funding opportunities for grant programs supporting behavioral health services across the country. Additionally, HHS, through the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), issued guidance that allows states to expand the pool of behavioral health care providers eligible for enhanced federal Medicaid funding, which will better support this critical workforce as well as improve access to care. The guidance also allows states to claim federal dollars for nurse advice lines.

“We are committed to providing communities with the resources they need to address mental health and substance use needs,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “We know that supporting the development and delivery of community-based behavioral health services promotes positive outcomes and advances health equity across the country.”

“With these announcements today, we are furthering our commitment to transforming behavioral health,” said HHS Deputy Secretary Andrea Palm. “Our continued investments in community programs, and in growing the capacity of our system – from prevention to treatment and recovery – are critical to meeting people where they are.”

The SAMHSA grant programs support the Biden-Harris Administration’s priorities to address the overdose and mental health crises, key pillars of the Biden-Harris Unity Agenda. The grant funding opportunities are:

  • $8.1 million for Prevention Technology Transfer Centers, which provide training and technical assistance services to the prevention workforce and other partners in communities to improve delivery and implementation of substance use prevention strategies and interventions for people of all ages.
  • $10 million for Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT). This program implements the SBIRT public health model for children, adolescents, and/or adults in primary care and community health settings – such as health centers, hospital systems, health maintenance organizations, preferred-provider organizations health plans, Federally Qualified Health Centers, behavioral health centers, pediatric health care providers and children’s hospitals – and schools with a focus on screening for underage drinking, opioid use, and other substance use.
  • $5 million for Community Programs for Outreach and Intervention with Youth and Young Adults at Clinical High Risk for Psychosis. This program provides trauma-informed, interventions to youth and young adults, up to 25 years of age, who are at clinical high risk for psychosis.
  • $6.2 million for First Responders-Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act. This program provides resources to support first responders and others with training, administering, and distributing naloxone and other Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved opioid overdose reversal medications or devices with a focus on populations disproportionately impacted by overdose.
  • $5.4 million for Provider’s Clinical Support System Universities. This program helps to expand and ensure that students in health professions programs receive substance use disorder (SUD) education early in their academic careers and upon graduation have basic knowledge of strategies to identify and treat addiction, support recovery, and address related stigma. This program also supports the integration of SUD content into the curricula of the respective academic institution. 
  • $1.1 million for the Statewide Consumer Network Program. This program enhances the capacity of statewide mental health consumer-run organizations to promote mental health and related service systems to be consumer-centered and targeted toward recovery and resiliency, and consumer-driven by promoting the use of consumers as agents of transformation.
  • $1.1 million for the Statewide Family Network Program. This program provides resources to enhance the capacity of statewide mental health family-controlled organizations to engage with family members/primary caregivers who are raising children, youth, and young adults with serious emotional disturbance.

“SAMHSA grant programs like these help communities implement comprehensive, evidence-based strategies that prevent and address substance misuse and promote mental health across the country,” said Miriam E. Delphin-Rittmon, Ph.D., HHS Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use and the leader of SAMHSA.

Today, the CMS also released new guidance to State Medicaid Directors to better support states in addressing the nation’s mental health crisis. First, today’s guidance expands the pool of behavioral health care providers eligible for enhanced Medicaid dollars to include Masters of Social Work and other master’s-level behavioral health care providers, such as marriage and family therapists as well as mental health counselors. During a time when the country is facing an unprecedented behavioral health crisis, it is essential that state Medicaid agencies have every tool available to meet the needs of their beneficiaries. This policy will support states in hiring and maintaining the specialized expertise needed to administer a robust Medicaid program that can meet beneficiaries’ behavioral health care needs.

Second, the guidance allows for federal funds to support Nurse Advice Lines as part of the continuum of supports available for Medicaid beneficiaries. Nurse Advice Lines can help support states to expand workforce capacity and provide access to an initial source of non-emergency care, including for behavioral health. Nurse Advice Lines can provide high quality responses informed by evidence-based models of clinical practice, including for mental health and substance use needs. Following the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency and particularly in rural areas, Nurse Advice Lines can be an important tool to support ongoing access to care.

“Expanding access to health professionals in real time to address health issues, including mental health concerns, is a critical component of high-quality, affordable, person-centered health coverage,” said CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure. “CMS is proud to support common-sense solutions, like nurse advice lines, that build a bridge between coverage and critical health services, particularly in rural areas. That bridge is what the lifeline of health care coverage is all about.”

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