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SAMHSA’s Award-Winning Newsletter
September/October 2008, Volume 16, Number 5 

Making Mental Health Services Accessible

A recent report proposes strategies to overcome barriers associated with the reimbursement of mental health services provided in primary care settings.

Jointly funded by SAMHSA and the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), with the technical expertise of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the report is titled, Reimbursement of Mental Health Services in Primary Care Settings.

cover of Reimbursement of Mental Health Services in Primary Care Settings – click to view publication

“Improving access to timely and targeted mental health services in primary care settings can improve patient health and compliance with treatment,” said A. Kathryn Power, M.Ed., Director of SAMHSA’s Center for Mental Health Services.

Stakeholders in this improvement process include primary care providers, state Medicaid officials, and others billing for mental health services in the public sector. The goal is to work together to promote a greater understanding of mental health reimbursement policy.

“HRSA’s collaboration with SAMHSA and CMS on this issue is generating positive results,” said HRSA Administrator Elizabeth M. Duke, Ph.D. “Community health centers are a good example. Actions identified in this report can help improve reimbursements for these centers and other safety-net providers that deliver mental health services in primary care settings.”

Recommended Actions

Action steps and creative ideas came in from mental health service consumers, practitioners, providers, researchers, and Government officials. Collectively, they identified seven barriers to reimbursement of mental health services in primary care settings, and made suggestions for action.

Recommendations include the following:

  • Increase leadership collaboration at the Federal and state levels among Government policymakers in Medicare, Medicaid, primary care, and mental health.
  • Disseminate revised policies and procedures to patients, payers, practitioners, providers, and managers of care.
  • Encourage flexibility in state Medicaid benefit designs to cover mental health services in primary care settings.
  • Increase payment for professional services by nonphysician practitioners under Medicare and Medicaid, particularly in underserved rural and urban areas.
  • Activate policies at the state level for appropriate reimbursement of telemedicine services.
  • Provide reimbursement for mental health prevention and screening services.

The full report is available on SAMHSA’s Web site.

Additional information about billing for mental health services is available.


Grant Awards Announced

SAMHSA recently announced grant awards for programs related to children's mental health, suicide, drug-free communities, and others.

Grant Awards Update

  National Survey on Drug Use  
  and Health  

Youth Substance Use Declines

From the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, new national data show a drop in illicit drug use among youth and an increase in adult prescription drug misuse.

image of part of a bar chart

Drugs and Youth: Chart Shows 2002 to 2007 Data

Marijuana, cocaine—changes in use of selected illicit drugs among youth, 2002 versus 2007.

logo for National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month

Recovery Month Testimonials

Two people relate their personal stories of addiction, recovery, and hope.

  Mental Health  
photo of a hand holding a pen to paper

Making Mental Health Services Accessible

Can primary care doctors help with mental health problems? New strategies to overcome barriers associated with reimbursement.

the letter i depicted as an icon representing a friend to lean on

Pros and Cons of Self-Disclosure

What are the risks and benefits of revealing a mental health problem to friends or coworkers?

photo of a boy pointing and a girl laughing

Bullying: Starting the Conversation

Bullies are out there—SAMHSA resources can help parents and educators address the problem.

  Substance Abuse  
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Mutual Support Groups: Fact Sheet for Providers

What do you know about mutual support groups? Providers can help connect clients with groups that help people achieve recovery.

photo of a sign reading “Repeated Admissions Start Line Here”

First-Time Versus Repeat Admissions

New SAMHSA data reveal characteristics of first-time and repeat admissions to substance abuse treatment.

SAMHSA’s National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices

Registry Posts 100th Evidence-Based Practice

NREPP reaches a milestone—find out how the Registry can link communities to interventions specific to their needs.

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Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration – 1 Choke Cherry Road - Rockville, MD 20857
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