Kentucky Medicaid gets OK to provide mobile behavioral health care

Published 10:30 am Tuesday, July 25, 2023

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By Sarah Ladd

Kentucky Lantern

Kentucky will join five other states in providing mobile Medicaid crisis intervention teams later this year, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced Thursday.

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CMS approved Kentucky’s proposals for these services alongside California.

Mobile teams allow behavioral health professionals to de-escalate people in need in the field as well as perform on-the-ground assessments and screenings for mental health issues or substance use disorders.

“Everyone should have access to behavioral health support where they are, when they need it – especially those who are in crisis,” Health & Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a statement. “This decision ensures that Californians and Kentuckians will have access to mobile crisis and other community-based supports. These resources will help to improve and save lives.”

Kentucky’s will go into effect Oct. 1, CMS documents show, and cost the federal government nearly $484,000 in 2024 and in 2025 to provide mobile teams and 23-hour crisis stabilization services.

The mobile teams, according to CMS documents, will be made up of two people who treat a person outside a hospital for less than a day. Telehealth will also be an option.

“California and Kentucky recognize the vital importance of breaking down barriers to meet people in crisis with the care they need,” CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure said in a statement. “With these approvals, California and Kentucky join a growing number of states in helping connect people to qualified health professionals as the first point of care during a crisis. This ensures people can get the care they need when and where they need it.”

The funding comes through the American Rescue Act of 2021.