Biden Administration to Provide $15M for Expansion of Medicaid Crisis Services

The Biden administration has announced that it is awarding $15 million in planning grants to help link Medicaid recipients to community-based mobile crisis intervention services.

The funding — which will be awarded by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) — will be granted to 20 states for the care of individuals experiencing a crisis situation. The situations, which occur outside of a hospital or health care facility, are related to mental health or substance use disorder (SUD).

The funding is geared to help states develop and implement mobile crisis intervention programs, which can be used in a variety of ways such as training, capacity strengthening and assessments of current services. The funding will be disbursed through the American Rescue Plan, which is President Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus package.


The funding will expand mobile intervention services currently available to Medicaid recipients experiencing crises outside of a care center. The services — which are provided through behavioral health specialists or critical treatments — are designed to reduce reliance on the involvement of law enforcement, with the goal of reducing incarceration when it is not deemed necessary to resolve a crisis.

The period of the grant will run exactly one year, from September 30 of this year through September 29, 2022.

“With these grants, CMS is taking strides to connect individuals in crisis with the high-quality, expert care they need,” CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure said in a statement. “Providing behavioral health care experts as alternatives to police is an example of how we can better help communities deliver on the behavioral health needs of all its residents.”


The Biden administration also said that it hopes the new grants will address worsening behavioral conditions nationwide in the wake of COVID-19.

Since the onset of the pandemic, more than half of the nation’s behavioral health organizations have reported a rise in demand for assistance, according to the National Council for Mental Wellbeing. Additionally, a record number of Americans within the last year have died from overdoses related to SUD — particularly as a result of opioid use disorder (OUD).

However, nearly a third of Americans live in parts of the country with a lack of sufficient behavioral health care services, according to the non-profit initiative USAFacts. Many residing in such areas also fall within the poverty level and are thus eligible for Medicaid.

“The pandemic has taken a serious toll on the mental health of Americans, especially in underserved communities,” Xavier Becerra, the secretary of the U.S. Health and Human Services Department, said in the statement regarding crisis funding. “Through these awards, the Biden-Harris Administration is making a bold investment to highlight the importance of behavioral health and ensure states can provide vital services to those hardest hit by the pandemic. This funding from the American Rescue Plan will expand access to crisis care for everyone—and reach people where they are.”

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