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On January 18, 2024, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced the Innovation in Behavioral Health (IBH) Model.  This model is intended to prepare practices for more advanced alternative payment models and accountable care arrangements in the future.

IBH is focused on improving quality of care and behavioral and physical health outcomes for Medicaid and Medicare populations with moderate to severe mental health conditions and substance use disorder (SUD). Medicare and Medicaid populations experience disproportionately high rates of mental health conditions and/or substance use disorders (SUD), and as a result are more likely to experience poor health outcomes and experiences, like frequent visits to the emergency department and hospitalizations, or premature death.

The IBH Model seeks to bridge the gap between behavioral and physical health; practice participants under the IBH Model will screen and assess patients for select health conditions, as well as mental health conditions and/or SUD, in community-based behavioral health practices. IBH is a state-based model, led by state Medicaid Agencies, with a goal of aligning payment between Medicaid and Medicare for integrated services.

The model works to improve care through four key program pillars:

– – Care Integration: Behavioral health practice participants will screen, assess, refer, and treat patients, as needed, for the services they require.
– – Care Management: An inter-professional care team, led by the behavioral health practice participant, will identify, and as appropriate address, the multi-faceted needs of patients and provide ongoing care management.
– – Health Equity: Behavioral health practice participants will conduct screenings for HRSNs and refer patients to appropriate community-based services. Participating practices will be required to develop a health equity plan (HEP). The HEP should stipulate how the practice participant will address disparities that impact their service populations.
– – Health Information Technology: Expansion of health IT capacity through targeted investments in inter-operability and tools (including electronic health records) will allow participants to improve quality reporting and data sharing.

CMS will release a Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) in Spring 2024, and up to eight states will be selected to participate. The model will launch in Fall 2024 and run for eight years.

The Innovation in Behavioral Health (IBH) Model is designed to deliver person-centered, integrated care to Medicaid and Medicare populations with moderate to severe mental health conditions and/or substance use disorder (SUD). The practice participants in the IBH Model will be community-based behavioral health organizations and providers, including Community Mental Health Centers, opioid treatment programs, safety net providers, and public or private practices, where individuals can receive outpatient mental health and/or SUD services. These practice participants may include safety net providers who ensure that vulnerable populations are able to access care.

Practice participants will lead an inter-professional care team and be responsible for coordinating with other members of the care team to comprehensively address a patient’s care to include behavioral and physical health, and health-related social needs (HRSN) such as housing, food, and transportation.

The practice participants will conduct an initial screening and assessment, offer treatment or referrals to other care specialists and community-based resources, and monitor ongoing behavioral and physical health conditions and HRSNs. In this value-based care approach, the practice participants will be compensated based on the quality of care provided and improved patient outcomes.

IBH is a state-based model focused on community-based behavioral health practices that treat Medicaid and Medicare beneficiaries and includes both Medicaid and Medicare-aligned payment models. CMS will first issue awards to Medicaid agencies in up to eight states to implement the model. Practice participants within selected states may volunteer to participate in the Medicare payment model. The selected states will partner with their state’s agencies for mental health and/or SUD to ensure alignment in clinical policies, as well as work with at least one partnering Medicaid Managed Care Organization (MCO) or another intermediary partner, where applicable, to develop and implement the IBH Model in their state.

IBH supports behavioral health practices in delivering integrated care in outpatient settings. This person-centered approach to addressing whole-person health represents a “no wrong door” approach that prioritizes close collaboration with primary care and other physical health providers to support all aspects of a patient’s care.

The IBH Model is projected to run for eight years and includes a pre-implementation period (model years 1-3). During this period, states and practice participants will receive funding to develop and implement model activities and capacity building. During model year 1, states will conduct outreach and recruit behavioral health practice participants into the model. Practice participants will receive funding to support necessary upgrades to health IT and electronic health records, as well as practice transformation activities, and staffing to implement the model. Practice participants who elect to participate in the Medicare payment model may also be eligible for additional funding to support model activities.