For Immediate Release - February 24, 2015

Health Policy Commission, Health and Human Services Office Announce $12 Million in Behavioral Health Funding through Interagency Agreement

Funding will support children, residents most in need of vital services; improve service quality in priority areas

BOSTON –Tuesday, February 24, 2015 – The Massachusetts Health Policy Commission (HPC) joined the Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EHS) today to announce a $12 million interagency funding agreement aimed at enhancing MassHealth payment rates for and improving the quality of service in behavioral health. The agreement is aimed towards the Commonwealth’s behavioral health system, as the funding will enhance Medicaid payments at Disproportionate Share Hospitals, which serve a significant number of lower income residents.

“This funding is a boost to Massachusetts hospitals facing the greatest challenge of improving behavioral health services for those individuals in need,” said Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders, who is also an HPC board member. “The Baker Administration and the HPC are committed to ensuring behavioral health services remain a priority now and in the future.”

The agreement was originally authorized by the Legislature in the FY 2014 state budget and maintained by the Baker Administration in its proposed FY15 mid-year supplemental budget released in early February 2015. The Health Care Payment Reform (HCPR) fund was established in Chapter 194 of the Acts of 2011, An Act Establishing Expanded Gaming in the Commonwealth and is primarily funded by the one-time licensing fees collected by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission.

The $12 million will enhance Medicaid payments for behavioral health services at Disproportionate Share Hospitals and will be prioritized for children and adolescents.

“The integration of behavioral health care into primary care is a top priority for the HPC. This agreement with the Baker Administration shows that even in difficult budgetary times, we remain focused on behavioral health and on improving access and quality for those residents most in need of these important services,” said David Seltz, Executive Director of the HPC. “We look forward to continuing to work in cooperation with the Secretary Sudders and the Baker Administration to enhance and support these vital services.”

"Behavioral health conditions affect a significant portion of the Medicaid population,” said Dan Tsai, Assistant Secretary for MassHealth. "These measures will encourage creative thinking on how to best care for the behavioral health needs of this vulnerable population.”

 

In addition to the $12 million agreement with EHS, HPC is working to improve behavioral health through a number of initiatives, including:

  • Promoting innovative care delivery models that will enhance care coordination and advancing integration of behavioral and physical health services;
  • Developing and implementing standards of certification for patient-centered medical homes (PCMH) and accountable care organizations;
  • Providing technical assistance to practices seeking to integrate behavioral health and developing a model payment method for PCMHs  that promotes and supports patient access to  mental health and substance use disorder services;
  • Prioritizing investments at community hospitals through the CHART program to improve behavioral health services and reduce Emergency Department boarding of behavioral health patients;
  • Providing direct assistance to consumers regarding insurance coverage denials through the Office of Patient Protection. 

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The HPC is an independent state agency that monitors reform in the health care delivery and payment systems and develops policies to reduce overall cost growth while improving the quality of patient care. To learn more, please visit www.mass.gov/hpc or follow us on Twitter @Mass_HPC.