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CMS Outlines Behavioral Health Care Strategy

In a May 31 Health Affairs article, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services officials detailed policy plans to strengthen behavioral health care, with a focus on access, equity, quality, and data integration.

The agency’s behavioral health strategy prioritizes:

  • improving access to behavioral health care by working with other agencies and encouraging states to advance behavioral health care coverage as part of the Affordable Care Act’s essential health benefits;
  • transforming the health care delivery system to integrate behavioral health and primary through Medicare fee-for-service policy and encouraging states to leverage existing flexible options through the Medicaid program;
  • bolstering the behavioral health workforce through Medicaid authorities and Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation (CMMI) models;
  • improving access to substance use disorder (SUD) services through Section 1115 SUD waivers and CMMI models;
  • focusing on the behavioral health needs of children and youth by maximizing school settings as behavioral health care locations within the Medicaid program; and
  • improving behavioral health care quality by including behavioral health measures in several quality programs.

Contact Senior Director of Policy Erin O’Malley at or 202.585.0127 with questions.


About the Author

Abigail Painchaud is a policy associate at America's Essential Hospitals.

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