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CMS Approves CA and KY Requests to Provide Behavioral Health Services Through Mobile Crisis Intervention Teams

Six states have adopted the option to provide individuals experiencing mental health or substance use disorder crises with community-based interventions and stabilization

July 29, 2023Mental health is a hot topic these days, but getting access to care isn’t always simple or straightforward. That is why two states are bringing a new twist to the scene. CMS recently announced that California and Kentucky are going to utilize community-based mobile crisis intervention teams to make Medicaid crisis services more accessible. They join four other states that already utilize these services. 

“California and Kentucky recognize the vital importance of breaking down barriers to meet people in crisis with the care they need,” said CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure. “With these approvals, California and Kentucky join a growing number of states in helping connect people to qualified health professionals as the first point of care during a crisis. This ensures people can get the care they need when and where they need it.”

These mobile crisis intervention teams aim to provide rapid response, assessment, and crisis de-escalation services 365 days a year, 24 hours a day. They also work for provide care coordination with referrals to health, social, and other community-based services, as needed.

“Everyone should have access to behavioral health support where they are, when they need it – especially those who are in crisis,” added Health & Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra. “This decision ensures that Californians and Kentuckians will have access to mobile crisis and other community-based supports. These resources will help to improve and save lives.”

Mobile crisis response teams in both states are part of a broader strategy to fill gaps in the mental health care system. Providing fast, appropriate care to those in crisis can reduce the need for costly inpatient services where individuals seek care in hospitals, or worse, ill-equipped police departments responding to mental health crises. This new option will help California and Kentucky expand access to behavioral health professionals as the initial contact for someone in crisis.

This initiative is not just about emergency response, though. The long-term goal of these teams is to connect folks to ongoing treatment and support services. So, after handling the immediate crisis, the teams provide follow-up services to ensure the individuals are plugged into the resources they need to continue their mental health journey.

Today’s announcement is just the latest in HHS’s efforts to advance the Biden Administration’s strategy to transform mental health services for all Americans. For more information on California’s and Kentucky’s approval, visit

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