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Oregon becomes first state to receive fed's approval on Medicaid reimbursement of mobile crisis intervention services

Brian Bull
In this February 19, 2021 photo, U.S. Democratic Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon discusses the importance of CAHOOTS, as local media, city officials, and staff members listen.

Governor Kate Brown is applauding her state becoming the first to earn federal approval for Medicaid reimbursement of mobile crisis intervention services.

Brown pointed to the CAHOOTS (Crisis Assistance Helping Out On The Streets) program run by the White Bird Clinic in Eugene, whose teams work to de-escalate difficult situations, and help people in crisis find essential support services.

Brian Bull
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown.

“And all of this work done of course, while ensuring the privacy and confidentiality of the person receiving care,” she said during a conference call with reporters.

“We are so thrilled that this investment is being made in our state. We know that Oregonians will get better services as a result.”

The announcement from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid has also been highlighted by lawmakers and mental health advocates, including U.S. Senator Ron Wyden. His brother Jeffrey, suffered from schizophrenia until his death 20 years ago.

Wyden said since Oregon originated CAHOOTS, it’s fitting his state should be first to qualify for this approval.

“When serious mental illness accounts for 1 in 10 law enforcement responses and 1 in 4 fatal police encounters, it’s clear that it’s long past time for CAHOOTS’ mobile crisis response model to be taken nationally,” he said.

The federal government will cover $.85 cents for every dollar spent by states to expand mobile crisis services for Medicaid recipients. There are 1.4 million in Oregon, nearly one-third of the state population.

©2022, KLCC.

Brian Bull joined the KLCC News Team in June 2016. In his 25+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (19 regional), the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.
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