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Nevada Leads the Way in Expanding Medicaid Billing Platform to Include Mental Health Services

By TheNevadaGlobeStaff, July 1, 2023 11:56 am

NEVADA – In a significant move, Nevada is pioneering the expansion of its Medicaid billing platform to incorporate mental health services. A recent state plan amendment allows districts to bill Medicaid for services beyond the Individualized Education Plan (IEP), facilitating the utilization of services for students at an earlier stage. This new approach emphasizes early intervention, covering various aspects of health such as mental health, behavioral health, social well-being, emotional support, and physical health.

Christy McGill, Deputy Superintendent of the Nevada Department of Education, highlights the importance of school-based health services complementing the broader community health system. The aim is to enhance the ratios of school counselors, school psychologists, and school social workers within Nevada’s schools. The Medicaid strategy is expected to enable schools to bill Medicaid, thereby enabling the recruitment of more professionals who can provide valuable support to students.

The focus on mental health services in schools has gained prominence, particularly in the wake of the pandemic. These services are designed to help students thrive in the classroom environment. While Medicaid billing for special education services has been in place for approximately a decade, Nevada is leveraging that experience to include mental health and early intervention services. The state is constructing a system that accommodates these new components, drawing from the valuable lessons learned during the pandemic.

McGill sheds light on how this strategy can be implemented, citing an example: if a child is experiencing behavioral challenges due to trauma or a recent family loss, the student may feel anxious and struggle to remain in the classroom. By having specialized professionals available in schools, students can receive tailored techniques and skills to navigate such difficulties.

Another objective is to eventually extend support to a greater number of students. Although this particular strategy focuses on funding for Medicaid students, schools are committed to ensuring that all students receive the necessary assistance. The additional funding from Medicaid will supplement educational budgets, potentially resulting in an increase in the number of school counselors, school social workers, and school nurses.

The Washoe County School District, Lyon County School District, and Clark County School District will be piloting this strategy during the current school year. In April, the Washoe County School District introduced an online resource called Care Solace, offering students and families a centralized platform for accessing mental health resources. The district emphasizes its dedication to enhancing mental health literacy, improving access to mental health services, and reinforcing district infrastructure to support and sustain mental health services within a Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS).

The efforts to integrate mental health services into the Medicaid billing platform signify a significant step forward in Nevada’s commitment to prioritizing students’ well-being and fostering a conducive learning environment for all.

Credits: Fox Reno

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