Issue Briefs | Oct 15, 2021

A Hybrid Funding and Coverage Model to Ensure Universal Access to Mobile Crisis Services

Patricia Boozang, Sabrina Corlette, Ashley Traube, and JoAnn Volk, Manatt Health and Georgetown University’s Center on Health Insurance Reforms

COVID-19, the resulting behavioral health crisis (including those related to mental health and substance use disorders), and calls for law enforcement reform related to behavioral health crisis response have heightened the urgency among federal, state, and local policymakers to expand access to behavioral health crisis services. Recently, the federal government has provided new funding opportunities to states to improve access to behavioral health crisis services, including mobile crisis services. The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARP) gives states the option of covering community mobile crisis intervention services in Medicaid for five years beginning in April 2022 (see here for additional information on the ARP mobile crisis option).

As states review the opportunities available to begin, enhance, or expand mobile crisis intervention services under ARP, policymakers may further consider a hybrid funding model that provides mobile crisis providers with a consistent and steady stream of funding to ensure they are able to maintain 24/7 availability and respond in a timely manner to all individuals in crisis, regardless of insurance status. Such a new model for funding mobile crisis services could also be designed to hold payers accountable for covering mobile crisis services when their enrolled members use this essential resource. This issue brief presents a sustainable, hybrid coverage and funding approach for mobile crisis services where mobile crisis providers would obtain:

  • A set amount or base funding that allows them to maintain continuous coverage; and
  • Third-party insurance reimbursement for services rendered to commercially covered individuals and Medicaid