September 20, 2021

Wyden Applauds $952,951 CAHOOTS Planning Grant for Oregon

Modeled on the Eugene-based CAHOOTS program operated by the White Bird Clinic, mobile crisis intervention services help those struggling with mental illness receive needed care instead of involving law enforcement

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Ron Wyden today applauded the Biden administration for announcing a $952,951 planning grant award for Oregon’s Medicaid program to support the development of mobile crisis intervention service programs to help those struggling with mental health and substance use disorder crises.

“This grant will kick-start the effort to help those experiencing a mental health crisis in Oregon get the services they need and reduce the prospect of an encounter with law enforcement,” said Wyden, Chair of the Senate Finance Committee. “I’m optimistic that next year communities around our state and country will be able to implement mobile crisis intervention services with this major investment from Medicaid. Meanwhile I continue to work to extend this program and truly reimagine public safety in Oregon and the United States.” 

Mobile crisis intervention services are designed to help those struggling with mental illness receive needed care instead of involving law enforcement. Modeled on the Eugene, Ore., based CAHOOTS program operated by the White Bird Clinic, these services allow a multi-disciplinary team to respond to mental health crises in order to stabilize and de-escalate the situation and help connect individuals to the health care and wraparound services they need.

In addition to meeting in Eugene with White Bird to work on increasing opportunities to expand the CAHOOTS approach to other communities statewide and nationwide, Wyden also has heard interest in recent months in Pendleton, Portland, Medford and Astoria about the CAHOOTS approach in those communities.

The American Rescue Plan (ARP) provided $15 million in planning grants for state Medicaid agencies to help set up these services around the country. These planning dollars will help states take advantage of enhanced Medicaid funding that will be available for these services beginning next year. Under the ARP, states that opt-in will be able to receive a higher federal Medicaid match, known as the Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP), of 85 percent for qualifying mobile crisis services. CBO estimated that this provision will give states $1 billion in additional federal Medicaid dollars for mobile crisis services in the coming years.