Rule changes aimed at mental health services in Florida

The state is considering changes to rules surrounding who can provide Medicaid behavioral-health services, with the changes possibly increasing access to mental-health providers in places such as schools.

Ben Browning, an executive at the Florida Association of Community Health Centers, said the proposed rules would make clear that clinical social workers and psychologists can deliver and --- be reimbursed for --- individual and group mental-health therapy sessions. Browning said current rules are ambiguous about whether providers can bill Medicaid for those sessions.

Browning said the proposed changes mean clinical social workers and psychologists could be used to provide mental-health services in schools on an individual basis or in group settings. The proposed changes are contained in a rule that lays out regulations about Medicaid coverage for behavioral-health services for people who are not in the Medicaid managed-care program. It was one of several rules discussed during a brief workshop Friday at the state Agency for Health Care Administration.

The proposed rule also would make clear that bachelor-degree level practitioners and certified addiction professionals could be used to provide behavioral-health group therapy services. Florida has increased focus on mental-health and drug-addiction services in the aftermath of the shooting last year at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland that left 17 students and staff members dead.

First Lady Casey DeSantis on Thursday announced The Hope for Healing campaign. Her first statewide initiative, the campaign will cull resources from the state Department of Education, the Department of Children and Families and the Department of Juvenile Justice to help youths and families avert drug addiction and address mental-health issues.

The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.