*For all press release inquiries, please reach out to Theresa Meyer (Theresa.Meyer@mail.house.gov)

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Following Congressman Tom Emmer's (MN-06) letter to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) calling for action, and eleven months after the congressional deadline, yesterday the agency outlined how states like Minnesota can utilize 1115 waivers to increase access to mental health treatment. Specifically, in a letter to State Medicaid Directors, CMS provided information on how to navigate an outdated federal law, called the Institutions for Mental Diseases (IMD) exclusion, to ensure those suffering from mental illness receive the inpatient care they need.

“This is a positive step forward not just for Minnesotans, but for every American who suffers from mental illness and their loved ones,” said Congressman Emmer.

“While there remains a severe shortage of mental health treatment across the nation, this long overdue guidance will allow states to navigate the outdated IMD exclusion law, a key contributor to that shortage. I am glad to see CMS take action following our letter and look forward to continue ensuring those who need care can get it.”

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 exclusion law 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 and their response here.

Read CMS guidance to states here.