New Medicaid State Planning Grants for Mobile Crisis Intervention Services

This week, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that it awarded $15 million in planning grants to 20 state Medicaid agencies to support expanding access to community-based mobile crisis intervention services for Medicaid beneficiaries.

As mentioned in our previous blog, the American Rescue Plan created a new state option for state Medicaid programs to provide community-based mobile crisis intervention services to individuals experiencing a mental health or substance use disorder crisis while receiving a temporary enhanced federal Medicaid matching rate. The option goes online April 1, 2022 and provides states with an enhanced federal matching rate of 85 percent for the first three years. To assist state Medicaid agencies in developing, preparing for, and implementing qualifying community-based mobile crisis intervention services, ARP also provided $15 million in funding for planning grants to states. 

This week’s announcement from CMS that 20 state Medicaid agencies⏤Alabama, California, Colorado, Delaware, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, New Mexico, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Utah, Vermont, Wisconsin and West Virginia⏤received planning grants highlights the strong state interest in developing and providing such services for Medicaid beneficiaries. 

It also provides an opportunity for stakeholders to engage with their states on the planning process. 

According to CMS, states can use the planning grant funds to support assessments of their currents services, strengthen capacity and information systems, ensure that services can be accessed 24/7, provide behavioral health care training for multi-disciplinary teams, or to seek technical assistance to develop Medicaid state plan amendments or waiver requests to implement such mobile crisis intervention programs.

As we’ve discussed on the blog, given the toll the pandemic has taken on the mental health of children, states could especially benefit by looking to models such as those in Connecticut and Massachusetts⏤which are specifically tailored to youth⏤to better meet the needs of children and youth in crisis.

We will be watching closely as the state planning process unfolds and the new state option with enhanced matching rate is made available starting April 1st. 

Free and confidential support for those in distress is available 24/7 at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (en Español: 1-888-628-9454; for the deaf and hard of hearing: Dial 711 then 1-800-273-8255) or the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741. 

Anne Dwyer is an Associate Research Professor at the Georgetown University McCourt School of Public Policy’s Center for Children and Families.