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Federal grant could integrate mental health, chemical dependency treatment

Shauna Reitmeier, chief executive officer of Northwestern Mental Health Center in Crookston, testifies for HF2609, sponsored by Rep. Debra Kiel, left, which would modify the requirements for community behavioral health clinics during the House Health and Human Services Finance Committee March 16. Photo by Paul Battaglia

Creating a network of community behavioral health clinics to provide a one-stop shop for individuals with complex mental and chemical health conditions was the focus of a proposal laid over Wednesday by the House Health and Human Services Finance Committee.

A 2015 law directed the human services commissioner to submit a proposal for the federal Excellence in Mental Health demonstration project.

Having received a $982,000 planning grant for the development of certified community behavioral health clinics, Minnesota now has the opportunity to apply for a two-year demonstration project.

If the state’s program is selected, the federal government will provide a significant matching grant for the approximately $8 million the state would then allocate for the clinics.

Sponsored by Rep. Debra Kiel (R-Crookston), HF2609 would establish a certification standard for community behavioral health clinics, which seek to create and integrate an actual system for specifically dealing with mental health and chemical dependency treatment.

Certified clinics would have to be available 24 hours per day for crisis management services and have staff that can help with patients’ linguistic and cultural needs.

In addition to issuing recommended evidence-based practices the clinics would use, the commissioner would establish a prospective payment system for Medical Assistance payments for services delivered by the clinics, although it will require federal approval before implementation.

SF2549, the companion bill sponsored by Sen. Melissa Wiklund (DFL-Bloomington), awaits action by the Senate Finance Committee.

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