CMS launches emergency psych demo project to relieve ERs

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced Tuesday that the Medicaid Emergency Psychiatric Demonstration will offer $75 million to 12 states (Alabama, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Missouri, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Washington state, West Virginia and Washington, D.C.) for their participation in the project. Created under the health reform law, the demonstration project is aimed at improving quality and lowering costs by matching millions in federal funds over three years.

"This new demonstration will help ensure patients receive appropriate, high quality care when they need it most and save States money," CMS Acting Administrator Marilyn Tavenner said in a statement.

Medicaid doesn't reimburse psychiatric institutions for certain services, which can strain general hospitals. For example, due to the IMD (institution-for-mental-disease) exclusion, many acute psychiatric cases, such as Medicaid patients with suicidal or homicidal thoughts, are diverted to emergency departments at general hospitals, which might not be able to handle such patients. "General hospitals may delay the provision of care until a bed becomes available, or inappropriately assign them to medical beds," CMS said.

But under the new demonstration experiment, Medicaid will provide private psychiatric hospitals emergency inpatient psychiatric care funds for enrollees who are aged 21 to 64.  

The Medicaid Emergency Psychiatric Demonstration will test whether Medicaid reimbursement for treating psychiatric emergencies in IMD settings will boost quality and cost savings, as well as whether it will cut down the burden on general emergency departments.

For more information:
- read the CMS announcement
- here are the demo project details

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