Trump administration urged to expand Medicaid benefits for mental health treatment

In the aftermath of the Florida school shooting last week, the Trump administration is actively exploring ways to help states expand inpatient mental health treatment using Medicaid funds. As it is now, a decades-old law, often referred to as the “IMD exclusion”, prohibits Medicaid from paying for inpatient mental health treatment in facilities with more than 16 beds. IMD stands for “institution for mental diseases.”

States are pressing the Trump administration to consider treatment waivers for people with severe mental illness. A spokesperson for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) said they are actively exploring ways to provide states with opportunities to improve mental health care.

Last year a government advisory panel recommended repealing the Medicaid IMD exclusion. The idea has bipartisan support, however it is estimated to cost as much as $60 billion over 10 years. The estimates do not factor in savings that would be realized by keeping mentally ill people out of prisons.