From staff reports

Catholic Charities, Diocese of Trenton, is among seven providers within New Jersey to be selected to partner with the state on a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ two-year demonstration program aimed at improving access to high-quality care for all Americans struggling with mental illness and substance abuse disorders.

New Jersey was one of eight states awarded the Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic Demonstration program grant, which is designed to integrate behavioral health with physical health care.

“The awarding of this groundbreaking federal initiative to the state of New Jersey in partnership with Catholic Charities, Diocese of Trenton, and six other provider agencies recognizes our ability to create valuable integrated services to improve the health and well-being of individuals who have traditionally been underserved,” said Susan Loughery, director of operations for Catholic Charities, Diocese of Trenton.

“The CCBHC initiative will get started in late January 2017, and through the provision of fully integrated primary health, behavioral health and substance abuse services, will enable Catholic Charities and our hospital and community partners to immediately improve the overall health of both adults and children with serious mental illness and substance abuse disorders,” she said.

The other providers in the state selected to participate were AtlantiCare Behavioral Health, CarePlus NJ, CPC Behavioral Health Care, Northwest Essex Community Healthcare Network, Oaks Integrated Care and Rutgers University Behavioral Health Care.

Under the program, selected states – including Minnesota, Missouri, New York, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon and Pennsylvania – will be reimbursed through Medicaid for behavioral health treatment, services and support to Medicaid-eligible beneficiaries using an approved prospective payment system. To qualify for certification, CCBHCs provide core services across the lifespan, use evidence-based practices and health information technology, report on quality measures and coordinate care with primary care providers and hospitals in the community.

Populations to be served are adults with serious mental illness, children with serious emotional disturbance, and those with long-term and serious substance use disorders as well as others with mental illness and substance use disorders.

The demonstration program reflects a broader administration-wide strategy to create a health care system that results in better care, smarter spending and healthier people.

“The demonstration program will improve access to behavioral health services for Medicaid and CHIP beneficiaries, and will help individuals with mental and substance use disorders obtain the health care they need to maintain their health and well-being,” said Vikki Wachino, deputy administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and director of the Center for Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program Services.

The selected states’ programs will be evaluated based on data from 21 quality measures collected through sources such as program records, Medicaid claims, managed care encounter data and clinic cost reports. Qualitative data will also be obtained from interviews with state officials and clinic staff. HHS will report on the access, quality and financial performance of the demonstration programs annually beginning December 2017, using data from the evaluation.

“We look forward to demonstrating that by balancing incentives and accountability, an enhanced level of accessible, comprehensive and quality care can be provided to all Americans,” said Kana Enomoto, deputy assistant secretary for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

In 2015, HHS awarded planning grants to 24 states to support certification of community behavioral health clinics, solicit input from stakeholders, establish prospective payment systems for demonstration reimbursable services and prepare an application to participate in the demonstration program. At the end of the planning year, 19 states submitted applications to participate in the demonstration program. The applications were reviewed by subject matter experts from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and Office of the Assistant Secretary of Planning and Evaluation for strengths and weaknesses. A key consideration in their selection was that participating states represented a diverse selection of geographic areas, including rural and underserved areas.

Authorized under Section 223 of the Protecting Access to Medicare Act of 2014, this demonstration program is a combined effort by several HHS agencies including SAMHSA, CMS and the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Planning and Evaluation.

For more information on the Section 223 Demonstration Program for CCBHC, visit