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Improving Behavioral Health Follow-up Care Learning Collaborative

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) launched the “Improving Behavioral Health Follow-Up Care Learning Collaborative” (Learning Collaborative) to support state Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) agencies’ efforts to improve access to and coordination of follow-up care for beneficiaries who visit an emergency department or are hospitalized for a mental health or substance use condition. Although timely follow-up care for this population leads to decreased suicidal ideation, reduced readmissions, improved medication adherence and decreased costs, states often fall short of the recommended timeframes for post-discharge treatment. Additionally, during the COVID-19 pandemic, delivery of behavioral health services declined dramatically and remains well below previous years’ levels. This learning collaborative will help states identify, test and implement strategies to better ensure that Medicaid and CHIP beneficiaries are able to access the behavioral health services they need during the pandemic recovery period and beyond.

Through the Learning Collaborative, state Medicaid and CHIP agencies and their partners including state behavioral health agencies, managed care plans, and providers will have the opportunity to expand their knowledge of effective approaches to improving access to behavioral health care, improve their ability to conduct quality improvement (QI) projects related to behavioral health care access and care coordination, and engage in state-to-state learning.

The Learning Collaborative will include two components: a webinar series beginning in May 2021 and an affinity group beginning in July 2021. The webinar series will include presentations from experts in the field and will introduce strategies that states can use to drive improvement in behavioral health care access and care coordination. States interested in taking action on the concepts and approaches introduced through the webinar series will have the opportunity to participate in an action-oriented affinity group that will support states in designing and implementing QI projects in their state. States with active Medicaid health homes for behavioral health populations, including severe mental illness (SMI), severe emotional disturbance (SED), and substance use disorder (SUD), will have the option of focusing QI projects in that setting.

Webinar Series

All interested state Medicaid, CHIP, and behavioral health agency staff, and their health plan and hospital partners are encouraged to participate in the webinar series. To register for one or more webinars in the series, go here.

Webinar #1: “Expanding and Ensuring Access to Behavioral Health Follow-up Care”

May 17, 2021

This webinar opened the series by discussing the importance of ensuring timely access to follow-up care for Medicaid and CHIP beneficiaries with behavioral health conditions and exploring approaches to improving access to behavioral health providers. Presenters from state Medicaid agencies described their initiatives to improve the availability of follow-up care and discuss how Health Home programs can be a strategy to increase access to coordinated behavioral health care.

Expanding and Ensuring Access to Behavioral Health Follow-up Care (PDF, 2.24 MB) (video) (transcript (PDF, 217.65 KB)) (May 2021)

Webinar #2: “Leveraging Key Relationships in Improving Behavioral Health Follow-up Care”

June 29, 2021

This webinar highlighted ways in which state Medicaid and CHIP agencies can collaborate with managed care organizations (MCOs), health systems, and other partners to develop new or leverage existing behavioral health initiatives. State presenters from New Jersey and Virginia shared strategies and lessons learned through engaging stakeholders and improving access to behavioral health follow-up care.

Leveraging Key Relationships in Improving Behavioral Health Follow-up Care (video) (transcript) (June 2021)

Webinar #3: “Using Data to Improve Access to Behavioral Health Follow-up Care”

July 15, 2021

This webinar described ways in which state Medicaid and CHIP agencies can use data to (1) understand and increase access to behavioral health follow-up care and (2) improve the quality of follow-up care provided to beneficiaries with behavioral health conditions. State presenters discussed how they used data for quality improvement and performance monitoring and discussed challenges and lessons learned through the implementation process.

Using Date to Improve Access to Behavioral Health Follow-up Care (PDF, 897.11 KB) (video) (transcript (PDF, 94.22 KB)) (July 2021)

Affinity Group

States interested in acting on the concepts and tools discussed during the webinar series will have the opportunity to join the affinity group beginning in July 2021. The affinity group will support states as they identify, implement, and scale data-driven behavioral health care quality improvement initiatives. This opportunity is open to state Medicaid and CHIP agencies with a range of experience in developing strategies and approaches to improve behavioral health follow-up care. State Medicaid and CHIP agencies are encouraged to include behavioral health partners and staff from managed care plans, providers, the state’s department of health, and other relevant partners, as part of the affinity group team.

Improving Behavioral Health Follow-up Care Affinity Group Fact Sheet (PDF, 243.01 KB)

Improving Behavioral Health Follow-up Care Affinity Group Expression of Interest Form (PDF, 351.16 KB)

Information Session: “Improving Behavioral Health Follow-up Care Affinity Group Q&A”

June 15, 2021

This webinar served as an introduction to the forthcoming “Improving Behavioral Health Follow-up Care Affinity Group.” Mathematica, CMS’s technical assistance provider, outlined the structure for the affinity group, which will include small group workshops and individualized technical assistance calls. Mathematica presented the Expression of Interest (EOI) requirements and the expected commitment from each participating state team. During the webinar, states had the opportunity to raise questions about the affinity group.

Affinity Group Information Session (PDF, 918.95 KB) (video) (transcript (PDF, 196.21 KB)) June 2021

Please contact the TA Mailbox at MACQualityImprovement@mathematica-mpr.com if you have any questions about this opportunity.