Waiver will expand mental health care in Oklahoma

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The Institution for Mental Diseases (IMD) recently provided seven states, including Oklahoma, with a waiver for serious mental illness and addiction from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

Waivers eliminate the 16-patient-bed cap on large, free-standing psychiatric hospitals and crisis stabilization units’ Medicaid reimbursements.

Waivers allow state authorities to provide inpatient treatment services, facility-based crisis stabilization, and medically necessary residential treatment to Medicaid beneficiaries with serious emotional disturbance and/or substance use disorder diagnoses, or serious mental illness.

States generally seek waivers to address either mental health or addiction issues.

Oklahoma’s waiver will allow it to expand mental health and addiction services.

The Oklahoma Health Care Authority and the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (ODMHSAS) worked together to earn the waiver.

“The waiver is something we have been pursuing for some time now, and by improving access to crisis care, we will see a reduction in behavioral health admissions to emergency departments and inpatient hospital settings,” Carrie Slatton-Hodges, ODMHSAS commissioner, said.

Medicaid beneficiaries will receive better outcomes, the state said. The waiver will also help reduce health care costs.

The IMD exclusion is controversial because it is based on location instead of medical necessity, something mental health advocacy groups view as discriminatory.

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