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CMS misses congressional deadline, leaves states like Minnesota in the dark for how to treat those suffering from mental illness

1115 waiver guidance would increase access to mental illness treatment across the U.S.

WASHINGTON, DC - Today Congressman Tom Emmer (MN-06) sent a letter to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), regarding the agency’s requirement to issue guidance for states like Minnesota in utilizing 1115 waivers to increase access to mental health treatment. Specifically, five months after a congressional deadline of December 2017, CMS has yet to issue 1115 waiver guidance, which informs states on how to navigate an outdated federal law, called the Institutions for Mental Diseases (IMD) exclusion, and ensure those suffering from mental illness receive the inpatient care they need.

Following reports of nearly a dozen inpatient treatment centers in Minnesota on the line, Congressman Emmer pressed CMS for a prompt response.

“When we passed the 21st Century Cures Act, Congress required CMS' assistance in increasing access to mental health treatment. Now, with dozens of treatment centers in Minnesota on the line, this long overdue guidance is desperately needed,” said Congressman Emmer.

“Unfortunately this issue is not unique to my home state. There is a severe shortage of mental health treatment across the nation and the IMD exclusion is a key contributor to that shortage. For Minnesotans, and for all Americans, this is unacceptable. I look forward to a quick response from CMS to ensure those suffering from mental illness can get the treatment and care they deserve,” concluded Emmer.

Through section 12003 of the 21st Century Cures Act which was signed into law in 2016, Congress required CMS to issue guidance for states in utilizing 1115 waivers to increase access to mental illness treatment. These waivers inform states on how they can redesign their mental health treatment systems and provide beneficiaries treatment in IMDs.

Since 1965, the IMD has significantly blocked access to treatment for those with substance use disorder or mental illness. Specifically, the federal government will not pay for their treatment services in facilities with more than 16 beds.

Read Emmer's letter to CMS here.