State plans to invest $80 million in mental health services

Posted at 6:54 PM, Feb 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-04 00:10:36-05

HELENA — The State of Montana announced on Monday plans to invest $80 million in community mental health services over the next 5 years.

The Medicaid Severe and Disabling Mental Illness (SDMI) - Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) Waiver currently provides around $9 million dollars a year to help people with severe and disabling mental illness receive various services in their community.

The state is working on expanding the budget to around $16 million a year, which will double the capacity of the program from the 357 current individuals to 750 by 2025.

“We must ensure that those who want to stay in their home and community have the support and resources to do so,” said Governor Steve Bullock. “This funding will address a significant need in our state and dramatically increase the state’s ability to help more Montanans through community-based services, as opposed to more expensive options such as in a nursing facility.”

The HCBS Waiver is a partnership between the State of Montana and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

“We’re able to make this investment in local community services by moving some unspent budget from other areas of the Medicaid program,” said Montana Medicaid Director Marie Matthews.

The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) plans to utilize $2.4 million in unspent funds to match an additional $4.6 million from CMS each year.

The plan is contingent on approval from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, but as it is part of an existing DPHHS federal waiver, the state is confident it will be approved.

Matthews says the expanded services will greatly benefit small and rural communities by getting additional dollars to local providers.

“The benefit package designed in the waiver is hoping to influence and help individuals live in their community longer and not escalate to the point that they need to have a stay in a hospital, or the Montana State Hospital,” said Mathews.

HCBS services include: case management, specialized medical equipment and supplies, non-medical transportation, adult day care, respite, private duty nursing, community transition, peer support and more.

DPHHS will request no later than March 31, 2020 a five-year extension to the existing Medicaid waiver effective July 1, 2020.