HHS adds Illinois to Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics program

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services signed off Tuesday on Illinois’s plan to establish a new behavioral health model in the state’s Medicaid program.

Through the Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics program, HHS will provide “sustainable funding” for facilities that provide comprehensive, around-the-clock behavioral healthcare and substance abuse treatment. Clinics are required to provide care coordination, 24/7 access to crisis services and serve all patients, regardless of their ability to pay.

“(CCBHCs) have significantly improved behavioral health treatment in our country, and today’s announcement will dramatically expand and improve access to equitable, quality care for Americans with serious mental health and substance use treatment needs,” HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a statement.

Illinois was one of 10 states added to the demonstration program after they established the “necessary state-level infrastructure and worked with providers” to develop their initiatives, according to HHS. Eight states are already part of the program.

Department of Healthcare and Family Services Director Lizzy Whitehorn said Tuesday’s announcement will have a “significant impact” on access.

“Behavioral healthcare faces major capacity challenges across the nation,” she said in a statement. “This program will expand access in critical ways for people who have struggled in the past to find the services they need.”

Report finds Illinois lawmakers made strides in addressing perinatal mental health

Illinois has “emerged” as a leader in the detection and treatment of perinatal mental health issues, but further steps must be taken, according to a report released Tuesday by researchers at the University of Illinois.

Currently, Illinois is one of only five states that mandates screenings for maternal mental health conditions.

Illinois was the first state to expand postpartum Medicaid coverage from 60 days to a year.

The study notes that state lawmakers have also taken steps in recent years to encourage physicians to conduct postpartum mental health screenings at well-baby visits, as well as develop educational materials for health professionals and patients to identify symptoms.

“These legislative efforts are great strides forward in raising awareness of perinatal mental health problems and helping women who are experiencing them access treatment,” Karen Tabb, a social work professor at the university and study co-author, said in a statement. “However, far too many of these conditions are still going undetected and untreated.”

Researchers added the work is vital, as previous studies have found “significant disparities” among racial minorities and low-income populations, with higher rates of depressive symptoms and suicidal ideations in these groups.