State continues process for behavioral health Medicaid waiver

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About three years after starting the process, the state is finally moving forward with a plan to try something different with behavioral health patients on Medicaid in an effort to reduce costs.

The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services has been in the process of applying for a Section 1115 waiver through the federal Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services since 2017 under former Gov. Bill Walker, which would allow the state to use Medicaid funding on non-traditional services for patients with behavioral health and substance use disorders.

The waivers, which target innovative practices not usually authorized by Medicaid, are intended to help states demonstrate a way to reduce health care costs while still providing care.

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