CMS’ New Guidance to Medicaid Directors Opens Door to More Behavioral Health Providers

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) released a new guidance to State Medicaid Directors, opening the door to a larger pool of providers to offer care to beneficiaries and adding a new nurse advice line.

As part of the guidance, a new group of behavioral health providers, including master’s level social workers, marriage and family therapists and other master’s level behavioral health clinicians, will be eligible for enhanced Medicaid dollars.

The new guidance also allows federal funds to be used for nurse advice lines to support Medicaid beneficiaries. Patients can access the advice line to seek information about non-emergent care conditions, including behavioral health issues. CMS pitches this line as a way to help improve workforce capacity.


“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,” CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure said in a statement. “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.”

This wasn’t the only recent development from Washington this week. The Biden-Harris administration announced $36.9 million of new behavioral health funding yesterday.

The new grants, administered through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), will go towards funding the overdose and mental health crisis.


SAMHSA plans to allocate the funding to six different areas:

  • $10 million will fund Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) programs. This model is often used in primary and community care settings for adults and children to screen for underage drinking, opioid use and other substances.
  • $5 million will go towards community programs for outreach and intervention for young people up to the age of 25 at high risk for psychosis.
  • $6.2 million to fund programs helping first responders train, administer and distribute naloxone and other opioid reversal drugs.
  • $5.4 million to fund Provider’s Clinical Support System Universities, which help train students in health professional programs to get more training in caring for patients with substance use disorder.
  • $1.1 million will go towards mental health-focused consumer-run organizations promoting mental health and wellbeing.
  • $1.1 million will fund state family network programs designed to help state mental health programs engage with families of children with serious emotional disturbances.

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