State health officials at the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) have announced a plan to distribute a package of $517 million in investments aimed at improving behavioral health services in Oregon. This includes $132 million which will flow to treatment providers starting this week.
The investments will be used to bolster the behavioral health workforce and expand treatment services. The state also will distribute funds to provide housing and other support services to people with mental health and substance use issues.
Key elements of the new grants are designed to eliminate health inequities.
The funding includes:
- Approximately $132 million in one-time grants to stabilize a behavioral health workforce that was severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, which are currently being distributed to treatment providers.
- Approximately $155 million in behavioral health provider rate increases to sustain and support behavioral health services, some of which would begin to take effect July 1, 2022 (pending legislative and federal approval).
- Approximately $230 million for supportive housing and residential treatment programs, which they will begin to receive later this summer.
“We are incredibly grateful to the Legislature and to Governor Brown for providing these critical investments,” Steve Allen, OHA’s behavioral health director said.
“These resources are intended to provide immediate support to behavioral health workers and give programs a sustainable base of funding they can count on to make behavioral health treatment more accessible and equitable in Oregon.”
OHA is issuing grants to 159 organizations across the state to recruit and retain employees for behavioral health service providers. These funds are beginning to be distributed directly to treatment programs this week. The funds were allocated by the Legislature through House Bill 4004 to supplement staffing losses exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The median award is approximately $334,000.
Providers must use at least 75 percent of the funding for wages, benefits and bonuses and the remainder for non-compensatory forms of retention or recruitment. To ensure accountability and that these dollars are spent on bolstering the behavioral health workforce, OHA will get reports about how and where these dollars will be spent. Lean more about the workforce stability grants.
“Rarely does an email bring tears, but this one did,” said Janice Garceau, behavioral health director for Deschutes County Health Services in response to receiving notification of the workforce investments for programs in her county. “This will make a meaningful difference.”
OHA is also proposing increasing provider payment rates to better coordinate access to care, incentivize culturally and linguistically specific services, invest in workforce diversity and support staff recruitment. The legislature allocated $42.5 million last year, which is expected to bring approximately $112 million in matching federal Medicaid funds.
The $155 million in rate increases will not only increase funding for treatment programs, it will also increase access for people who need mental health and substance use treatment. In total, this increase would put an extra $109 per Medicaid member into the behavioral health system.
Under the proposed fee-for-service rate increases for providers:
- Programs providing children with intensive psychiatric treatment would receive rate increases of approximately 37 percent.
- Substance use disorder residential treatment services would receive rate increases of approximately 32 percent.
- Adult residential mental health treatment programs would receive rate increases of 30 percent.
- Some providers will receive an over 20 percent bump for providing culturally and linguistically specific services.
- Adult outpatient mental health treatment programs would receive rate increases of approximately 28 percent.
OHA is working on getting federal approval for these increases, and providers that bill OHA directly through Medicaid on a fee-for- service basis this summer.
These fee-for-service increased payments will be retroactive to July 1, 2022. In addition to the fee-for-service increases, OHA will be providing increases to coordinated care organizations that should be passed along to behavioral health providers beginning Jan. 1, 2023.
Supportive housing and residential treatment
The funding for supportive housing and other residential options includes $100 million in direct awards to Oregon’s counties which will be issued by the end of summer. In addition, a competitive grant program totaling $112 million will expand housing and residential services for mental health treatment and substance use disorders.
These grants follow two earlier rounds of funding.
In the fall of 2021, OHA awarded $5 million in planning grants to 100 community organizations and four Tribes. In addition. OHA awarded $10 million earlier in 2022 to projects that could expand residential treatment capacity in the short-term, resulting in the availability of 70 additional beds.
The $112 million grant program will support longer-term projects, including new construction and renovation to further expand licensed residential and supportive housing services.
The remaining $20 million has specifically been identified to support Oregon’s federally recognized Tribes for funding housing and residential treatment projects. Qualifying programs will receive awards in late summer and funding would continue through spring 2023.
The county funding will be used to develop housing options, expand residential treatment capacity and increase access to low and no-barrier shelter options.
The goal of the competitive grants is to create substantially more capacity in Oregon’s continuum of community-based residential and housing services for people with behavioral health needs, offering culturally responsive, person-centered programming.
This will ensure that people are supported in settings that best meet their needs and will create more equitable and effective housing alternatives for people with serious and persistent mental illness, requiring a higher standard of care.
New funds are separate from M110 grants
These investments are separate from, and in addition to, the Measure 110 grants that are currently being awarded to Behavioral Health Resource Networks (BHRNs) around the state to expand substance use treatment.
Courtesy of State of Oregon