Prentice’s Perspective: CMS Unveils Innovative Model to Transform Behavioral Health Integration

January 24, 2024

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently announced a groundbreaking model aimed at advancing the integration of behavioral health services. The Innovation in Behavioral Health (IBH) Model, unveiled on January 18, 2024, seeks to enhance the quality of care, accessibility, and outcomes for individuals with mental health conditions and substance use disorders under Medicaid and Medicare.

The key focus of the IBH Model is to bridge the gaps between physical and behavioral health, as well as address health-related social needs. By forming interprofessional care teams, community-based behavioral health practices will collaborate with physical health providers and community supports. This collaborative approach aims to improve the overall quality of care and outcomes for adults with mental health conditions and/or substance use disorders.

Prentice Tom, CMO of Kintsugi, says “I am delighted to learn of the CMS’s new IBH Initiative. This model encourages a more integrated approach to mental health care and represents a continuation of the CMS’s efforts to increase treatment options and availability of services to those suffering from mental health conditions. It compliments last year’s move to allow for general vs. direct supervision of behavioral health professionals. These initiatives reflect the CMS’s recognition of the very real and large unmet demand for better mental healthcare.”

Prentice goes on to share how this might impact the future of healthcare saying, “This leadership direction by the CMS will shepherd in a much needed focus on mental health care, creating more robust, available and integrated screening, diagnosis and treatment options that address the full range of mental health from disease prevention and wellness to mild conditions amenable to changes in life habits to severe disease requiring pharmacologic intervention.”

The CMS Innovation Center will oversee the testing of the IBH Model, set to launch in Fall 2024 and operate for eight years in up to eight states. The model encourages community-based behavioral health organizations and providers to work collaboratively, with incentives such as infrastructure payments for health IT capacity building, electronic health records, and practice transformation. Given that 25% of people with Medicare and 40% of adult people with Medicaid experience mental illness or substance use disorder, the anticipated impact of the IBH is significant.

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