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DHS expands a program to provide behavioral health services in their hometowns

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The state Human Services Department is amending a program to make it easier for people to receive behavioral health services in their hometowns.

The amendment is to the state’s Medicaid plan. It’s called 1915(i).

"It allows us to provide additional behavioral health support in people's communities, in home and community-based settings," said DHS 1915(i) program administrator Monica Haugen. "The intent is to bring services to people, and meet them where they are, physically."

Haugen said that will prevent them from seeking a higher level of care than what they need.

"Or being hospitalized, or having to reside in an institution, because there's no care available in their community," Haugen said.

Haugen says the intent is to provide services that haven’t been provided, or services that had been provided, but where providers did not have a billing source.

"Now they're able to bill Medicaid for providing these services," Haugen said. "It's really valuable for the people receiving the services, as well as the providers."

DHS says there is a significant need for behavioral health services around the state. Haugen said DHS is working to build up the provider base.

"It has been relatively slow, getting providers enrolled," Haugen said. "There have been some hurdles we've identified along the way, and we've made some changes to address those hurdles, those barriers for individuals as well as providers."

Haugen said a lot of that was addressed in the amendments to the 1915(i) program.

"We really want people to remain in their communities, and be successful in their home," Haugen said. "It makes sense fiscally. Home and community based care is much less expensive than hospitalization or institutionalization."

More information on the program may be found at behavioralhealth.nd.gov/1915i.

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