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SAMHSA Announces New Approach for Block Grants in Light of Health Care Reform

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The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has announced a change to the Substance Abuse Prevent and Treatment and Mental Health Services Block Grants, Occupational Health & Safety reports.

The change comes in response to the new federal health care reform law. The 2012/2013 grants are designed to get state behavioral health systems ready for 2014, when more people will be insured through Medicaid or third party insurance.

According to a recent SAMHSA press release, states will be able to use block grant money for prevention, treatment, recovery and other services that supplement those covered by Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance.

The release notes that until now, states have had differing structures for accepting, planning and accounting for these grants. SAMHSA says it aims to streamline these procedures and make them consistent through a uniform application and reporting process.

SAMHSA will ask states to: 

  • Take a broader approach in reaching beyond the populations they have historically served through block grants. 
  • Conduct a needs assessment and develop a plan that will paint a fuller picture of the states’ behavioral system.
  • Design and develop collaborative plans for health information systems—grants and other funding. 
  • Form strategic partnerships to provide better access to good, modern health services.
  • Focus more on services in support of recovery from mental health and substance use problems. 
  • Focus their block programs on improving accountability for quality and performance of services they provide.


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