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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 eomalley@essentialhospitals.org or 202.585.0127 with questions.

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About the Author

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

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