By Associated Press - Wednesday, January 1, 2020

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - A federal agency approved Indiana’s request to use Medicaid funding to provide expanded services to residents diagnosed with serious mental illnesses.

U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services authorized the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration to use those funds to pay for short term care for patients admitted at large institutions for mental disease, rather than continuing to limit treatment to facilities with fewer than 16 beds.

The state sought to extend the expanded substance abuse and serious mental illness components of the Healthy Indiana Plan through 2025. The Medicaid waiver took effect Wednesday, The Times of Northwest Indiana reported.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services previously had authorized Medicaid funds to be used in the state for inpatient treatment at institutions for mental disease when a person is diagnosed with substance use disorder.

The Indiana Family and Social Services Administration says that because about one in four people with mental illness also has a substance abuse problem, the new waiver will ensure consistency in their treatment.

“This waiver allows Indiana to, for the first time, offer the full continuum of treatment for Hoosiers with co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders,” said FSSA Secretary Dr. Jennifer Sullivan.

State records show only about half of Indiana Medicaid members receiving inpatient psychiatric services between July 1, 2018, and June 30, 2019, obtained them at an institution for mental diseases.

The waiver is expected to allow for longer inpatient stays, improved stabilization and more successful transitions back into homes and communities, while also driving down costs associated with overuse of hospital emergency rooms for mental health problems and psychiatric crises.

“My 2020 ‘Next Level’ Agenda is focused on improving the lives of Hoosiers, and a key part centers around increasing the capacity of mental health services throughout the state,” said Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb.

“With this waiver in hand, we will begin to accomplish this on day one of the new year,” Holcomb said.

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