September 12, 2022

Wyden: Oregon the First State To Earn Federal Approval for Medicaid Reimbursement of Mobile Crisis Intervention Services

Senator: Today’s announcement marks a major milestone for Oregon and the entire country on the groundbreaking path pioneered by Eugene’s CAHOOTS program to address mental health crisis with trained responders instead of law enforcement.

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Ron Wyden today announced that Oregon is the first state to earn federal approval for Medicaid reimbursement of community-based mobile crisis intervention services that help people struggling with mental health and substance use disorders.

The approval by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) of Oregon’s Medicaid state plan amendment to provide qualifying mobile crisis intervention services is the first since the American Rescue Plan became law last year.

And this approach reworking law enforcement by sending trained mental health responders to a mental health crisis instead of police marks another key step in Wyden’s work to extend the successful mobile crisis intervention model pioneered in Eugene -- with the CAHOOTS program operated by the White Bird Clinic -- throughout Oregon and the country.

 “This great news for Oregon clearly demonstrates how our state continues to lead the nation when it comes to reimagining a more humane and effective response for people in a mental health crisis,” said Wyden, Chair of the Senate Finance Committee. “In the true spirit of the “Oregon Way” focusing on smart solutions, CAHOOTS has long proven a success at de-escalating these crises by getting people the mental health help they need without involving law enforcement.”

 “I worked to get federal resources in the American Rescue Plan so state Medicaid agencies like Oregon’s could secure planning grants that put them in position for major milestones like today’s that advance on the groundbreaking path pioneered in Eugene,” Wyden said.

Wyden said today’s CMS announcement means Oregon is the first of the 20 states that received those planning grants to qualify for a higher federal Medicaid match of 85 percent for the next three years to reimburse mobile crisis services delivered to Medicaid beneficiaries.


“That stepped-up federal investment makes it much easier and cost-effective or local communities to build CAHOOTS-like programs tailored to their needs,” he said. “And I’m going to keep working with the state and the federal government to ensure Oregon cities and counties interested in this fresh approach to crisis response continue to get the resources they need.”