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The expansion of mental health and substance abuse services has been a priority for the Kelly Administration for a long time, and recently, some action was taken regarding just that.

Last Tuesday, Gov. Laura Kelly announced Kansas has been added to the Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHC) Medicaid Demonstration Program. CCBHCs provide greater access to crisis and behavioral health care services in communities, according to a release from the State of Kansas.

“The CCBHC model is essential to the resources Kansans need to overcome substance use disorders and improve mental health,” Gov. Kelly noted in the State of Kansas release. “This announcement strengthens the work my administration is doing to provide these critical services.”

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), in partnership with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), announced 10 new states after they successfully developed the necessary state-level infrastructure and worked with providers in their states to develop programs that meet CCBHC standards, the State of Kansas release noted.

CCBHCs must ensure access to comprehensive services, provide care coordination when needed, and incorporate evidence-based practices and other supports based on a community needs assessment. This includes crisis services available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They must meet federal standards for the range of services they provide. CCBHCs offer a no-wrong-door approach because they must serve anyone who requests care for mental health or substance use conditions, regardless of their ability to pay, place of residence, or age.

In March 2023, Kansas received a $1 million, one-year federal planning grant from HHS SAMHSA to support the transition of Community Mental Health Centers (CMHCs) to become CCBHCs capable of treating mental health and substance abuse crises through integrated physical-behavioral care. Many offered praise in support of the measure at the time.

“I believe every Kansan should have access to affordable health care, and that absolutely includes mental health. Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics provide essential services to keep our communities healthy and safe, and now that this federal program has expanded to Kansas, our network of centers will be able to expand their reach to all who need help—regardless of financial situation,” Representative Sharice Davids, (KS-03), noted in the March 2023 State of Kansas release. “I’m proud to have voted for this federal funding and I know it will help many Kansans in need.”

“I am extremely thrilled to learn KDADS is the recipient of the $1 million dollar grant. Helping our mental health centers move more quickly into the CCBHC model means that more Kansans will have access to mental health services,” Kanas Senator Pat Pettey, Kansas Senate District 6 and Ranking Minority Member of the Senate Committee on Public Health and Welfare, noted in the March 2023 State of Kansas release.

In 2021, Gov. Kelly had also signed Senate Substitute for House Bill 2208, which laid the groundwork to modernize the state’s mental health system to meet community-specific needs. With that bill, Kansas became the first state to pass legislation identifying the CCBHC model as a solution to the mental health and substance use crisis. Since then, KDADS has been transitioning the state’s 26 CMHCs to CCBHCs.

Funding for this opportunity was made available through the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BCSA), which builds upon the $12.6 million awarded to Kansas in September 2022 for new and existing CCBHCs to expand access. The BSCA gave HHS the authority to add 10 new states to the CCBHC Medicaid Demonstration program every two years. Kansas received planning grants in 2022 to address its behavioral health crisis.

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