New Medicaid Health Home State Option Now Available

by Rebecca Farley on November 18, 2010

On Nov. 16, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a State Medicaid Directors Letter providing guidance on how states may take advantage of the new Medicaid Health Home option under the healthcare reform law. This provision of the law creates a new option for states to enroll beneficiaries with two or more chronic conditions, including serious mental illness or substance use disorders, into health care homes for the coordinated treatment of their conditions.

In its letter, CMS emphasized that this is initial guidance. The letter indicates that CMS will provide financial support to states for their health home program planning efforts and clarifies that states can target populations for inclusion, but must specify how they will address behavioral health disorders in the health home model. CMS also identifies community mental health centers and other behavioral health entities as eligible health home providers. In addition, it stipulates that the basic requirements for meeting the criteria for a health home include the provision of behavioral health prevention and treatment services. All states applying for this option must consult with SAMHSA to ensure that they are adequately addressing behavioral health disorders.

For more information about the health homes provision enacted under health reform, see the National Council’s fact sheet on this topic.

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