Oregon to be first state to get Medicaid funding for crisis services
Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Oregon is the first state to get federal approval for Medicaid reimbursement of community-based mobile crisis intervention services, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced Monday. The hope is to get more programs like White Bird Clinic's CAHOOTS in Eugene off the ground.
"It's pretty big news for our little town," Chris Hecht, executive coordinator at White Bird Clinic, said. "White Bird's success is our community' success. It's the only reason we do well, because everybody here gets it."
The Eugene-based unarmed, 24/7 mobile crisis intervention team has been receiving national attention for its alternative response to behavioral health issues and other kinds of crisis that might not need or benefit from police response. Interest in the program exploded after the summer of 2020, when an activist movement against racism and police brutality was sparked by the murder of George Floyd.
U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden spoke at a press conference Monday, praising the funding that is a part of the American Rescue Plan.
"Today is a major step forward for my home state and for the whole country," Wyden said. "Now the rest of the country has the chance to pick up on the groundbreaking path that (was) pioneered in my home state."
He added issues of mental health and public safety have always been personal to him as he grew up with a brother that struggled with schizophrenia.
Federal funding is uncapped and will be available for any state's program once the mobile crisis services are rendered. At a minimum, this will bring millions of dollars to Oregon for crisis mental health care, a spokesperson from Wyden's office said.
"Oregon's model for community-based mobile crisis intervention teams is centered on the value that a behavioral health crisis should be met with a behavioral health response," Gov. Kate Brown said on Monday. "This investment will be a game changer for our state, enabling us to provide mental health services that will reach Oregonians in communities across the state and that are culturally, linguistically and developmentally appropriate."
Wyden said the announcement means Oregon is the first of the 20 states that received planning grants to qualify for a higher federal Medicaid match of 85% for the next three years to reimburse mobile crisis services delivered to Medicaid beneficiaries. Both established programs and new programs are eligible to be considered for funding.
"Oregon, where the program was born, and where public officials have worked to promote it, is now the first state fully approved for the matching funding from Medicaid," Wyden said. "I think it's very fitting Oregon continues to lead the way."
Contact reporter Tatiana Parafiniuk-Talesnick at [email protected] or 541-521-7512, and follow her on Twitter @TatianaSophiaPT.