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Child mental health services could be covered by medical assistance

Children amid a mental health crisis who need care at a residential treatment facility have too often been left behind when it comes to medical benefits.

Sponsored by Rep. Kim Hicks (DFL-Rochester), HF4779 would allow medical assistance dollars to be used for crisis stabilization for children in residential treatment facilities, thereby allowing such services to expand statewide.

“Many children and youth in our community across the state face difficult mental health and behavioral health each day,” said Olmsted County Deputy Administrator Travis Gransee. “The current service delivery landscape doesn’t offer adequate community-based solutions to address the needs of many of these families.”

The House Health Finance and Policy Committee laid the bill over Friday for possible inclusion in larger legislation. 

With financial support from the Legislature, the Southeast Regional Crisis Center in Rochester has been offering around-the-clock care — including community-based care — since 2021 for children, youth, and adults. The goal is to reduce emergency room visits or invasive and expensive residential programs that often are located out of state, Hicks said.

Adult care is covered by medical assistance. “The same services for individuals under the age of 18 are not covered,” Gransee said. The county is invoiced for such services.

The bill, which defines children as 20 years or younger, would require any child crisis stabilization plan to consider or include the following:

  • the child’s needs and the factors that lead to their mental health crisis;
  • an individualized treatment plan;
  • 24-hour, on-site staff and assistance;
  • counseling;
  • skills training;
  • a crisis action response plan, and
  • referrals to service providers to support the child’s transition out of residential services.

The bill would also direct the Department of Human Services to propose reimbursement rates for stabilization services and room and board by Jan. 6, 2025.

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