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N.H. To Request More Federal Support For Mental Health Services Via A Medicaid Waiver

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New Hampshire hopes a new request for a Medicaid amendment could improve mental health care for Granite Staters.

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The amendment the state plans to request from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS), would increase the amount of federal support New Hampshire receives for Medicaid enrollees with serious mental illness (SMI) staying at Institutions for Mental Disease, like residential treatment facilities.

The state hopes the amendment will help reduce trips to the emergency room for mental health crises and reduce the time patients stay in the ER, a long-standing problem that has become symbolic of a shortage of mental health treatment options in New Hampshire.

Once SMI patients stay in institutions for mental disease (IMD) for more than 15 days, the state’s general fund effectively pays for the care, according to the state’s Medicaid Director, Henry Lipman. With the amendment, Lipman says, the federal government would share the cost with the state for longer stays.

Lipman says increased federal participation will mean the state can redirect more resources to build out mental health care services.

Participation means states are expected to improve community-based mental health care, like the creation of mobile crisis teams.

Before submitting the request, the department is seeking comments from the public and will host two public hearings during the 30 day comment period, which began this week.

Lipman expects the state’s request to be approved by CMS, with a planned implementation date of July 2022.

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