Over the past year SAMHSA has changed the way it administered the State Mental Health (MHBG) and Substance Abuse Block Grants (SABG). Beginning early last year, SAMHSA leadership started to look at the current and anticipated changes in the health care field, taking into consideration the changing roles of States, providers and consumers. This information provides a better picture of how state behavioral health agencies are actively engaged, planning, and able to use available resources. Initially, SAMHSA requested that States complete an addendum to the Fiscal Year (FY) 2011 Block Grant application to provide preliminary information on health care reform efforts.
Based on information from the addendum, it became apparent that States were in different stages of their health reform efforts but still had some similar needs. Cross-cutting areas where States were looking for help include health information technology and primary and behavioral health care integration, which SAMHSA has addressed through State technical assistance (e.g. regional meetings). While the addendums provided a snapshot of where States are at in their health reform efforts, SAMHSA still wanted additional information to inform decision-making at the federal level and wanted to provide States with more flexibility in their block grant process. To get there, SAMHSA decided to redesign the MH and SABG.
SAMHSA made a number of significant changes to increase State flexibility and help prepare States for the expansion of health coverage in 2014. A number of changes include giving States the opportunity to serve populations that haven’t traditionally been served by block grant dollars, conduct a needs assessment and develop a plan that will identify and analyze the strengths, needs and priorities of the State’s behavioral health system, and direct States to focus their block programs on improving accountability for quality and performance of services they provide.
Additionally, a major change adopted is giving States the option of submitting a combined application, which for many States is significant because the mental health and substance abuse services are housed in the same office, causing States to do duplicative work. Since given this option, 22 States and two jurisdictions have submitted a combined plan on or before September 1st. In addition to submitting a combined application, States now submit the application on a bi-annual basis, instead of annually.
SAMHSA is currently reviewing and analyzing the information submitted by States in their Block Grant submission. More information on the Mental Health and Substance Abuse Block Grant can be found on SAMHSA’s Block Grant webpage.
Below is a list of the 22 States and two Territories that submitted a combined MH and SA Block Grant Application.
- New, Jersey
- New, Mexico
- North, Dakota
- Rhode, Island
- West, Virginia
- Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana, Islands
- Republic of, Palau