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OHA releasing $517 million to improve Oregon behavioral health services

Oregon Health Authority

SALEM, Ore. (KTVZ) -- State health officials at the Oregon Health Authority have announced a plan to distribute a package of $517 million in investments aimed at improving behavioral health services in Oregon. It includes $132 million which will flow to treatment providers starting this week.

The investments will be used to bolster the behavioral health workforce and expand treatment services. The state also will distribute funds to provide housing and other support services to people with mental health and substance use issues.

Key elements of the new grants are designed to eliminate health inequities.

The funding includes:

  • Approximately $132 million in one-time grants to stabilize a behavioral health workforce that was severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, which are currently being distributed to treatment providers.
  • Approximately $155 million in behavioral health provider rate increases to sustain and support behavioral health services, some of which would begin to take effect July 1, 2022 (pending legislative and federal approval).
  • Approximately $230 million for supportive housing and residential treatment programs, which they will begin to receive later this summer.

“We are incredibly grateful to the Legislature and to Governor Brown for providing these critical investments,” Steve Allen, OHA’s behavioral health director said.

“These resources are intended to provide immediate support to behavioral health workers and give programs a sustainable base of funding they can count on to make behavioral health treatment more accessible and equitable in Oregon.”


OHA is issuing grants to 159 organizations across the state to recruit and retain employees for behavioral health service providers. These funds are beginning to be distributed directly to treatment programs this week. The funds were allocated by the Legislature through House Bill 4004 to supplement staffing losses exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The median award is approximately $334,000.

Providers must use at least 75 percent of the funding for wages, benefits and bonuses and the remainder for non-compensatory forms of retention or recruitment. To ensure accountability and that these dollars are spent on bolstering the behavioral health workforce, OHA will get reports about how and where these dollars will be spent. Lean more about the workforce stability grants.

“Rarely does an email bring tears, but this one did,” said Janice Garceau, behavioral health director for Deschutes County Health Services, in response to receiving notification of the workforce investments for programs in her county. “This will make a meaningful difference.”

Rate increases

OHA is also proposing increasing provider payment rates to better coordinate access to care, incentivize culturally and linguistically specific services, invest in workforce diversity and support staff recruitment. The legislature allocated $42.5 million last year, which is expected to bring approximately $112 million in matching federal Medicaid funds.

The $155 million in rate increases will not only increase funding for treatment programs, it will also increase access for people who need mental health and substance use treatment. In total, this increase would put an extra $109 per Medicaid member into the behavioral health system.

Under the proposed fee-for-service rate increases for providers:

  • Programs providing children with intensive psychiatric treatment would receive rate increases of approximately 37 percent.
  • Substance use disorder residential treatment services would receive rate increases of approximately 32 percent.
  • Adult residential mental health treatment programs would receive rate increases of 30 percent.
  • Some providers will receive an over 20 percent bump for providing culturally and linguistically specific services.
  • Adult outpatient mental health treatment programs would receive rate increases of approximately 28 percent.

OHA is working on getting federal approval for these increases, and providers that bill OHA directly through Medicaid on a fee-for- service basis this summer.

These fee-for-service increased payments will be retroactive to July 1, 2022. In addition to the fee-for-service increases, OHA will be providing increases to coordinated care organizations that should be passed along to behavioral health providers beginning Jan. 1, 2023.

Supportive housing and residential treatment

The funding for supportive housing and other residential options includes $100 million in direct awards to Oregon’s counties which will be issued by the end of summer. In addition, a competitive grant program totaling $112 million will expand housing and residential services for mental health treatment and substance use disorders.

These grants follow two earlier rounds of funding.

In the fall of 2021, OHA awarded $5 million in planning grants to 100 community organizations and four Tribes. In addition. OHA awarded $10 million earlier in 2022 to projects that could expand residential treatment capacity in the short-term, resulting in the availability of 70 additional beds.

The $112 million grant program will support longer-term projects, including new construction and renovation to further expand licensed residential and supportive housing services.

The remaining $20 million has specifically been identified to support Oregon’s federally recognized Tribes for funding housing and residential treatment projects. Qualifying programs will receive awards in late summer and funding would continue through spring 2023.

The county funding will be used to develop housing options, expand residential treatment capacity and increase access to low and no-barrier shelter options.

The goal of the competitive grants is to create substantially more capacity in Oregon’s continuum of community-based residential and housing services for people with behavioral health needs, offering culturally responsive, person-centered programming. 

This will ensure that people are supported in settings that best meet their needs and will create more equitable and effective housing alternatives for people with serious and persistent mental illness, requiring a higher standard of care. 

New funds are separate from M110 grants

These investments are separate from, and in addition to, the Measure 110 grants that are currently being awarded to Behavioral Health Resource Networks (BHRNs) around the state to expand substance use treatment.

To date, the Measure 110 Oversight and Accountability Council has approved BHRN applications in 29 Oregon counties. Last week, OHA funded the first BHRN in Harney County.

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  1. Money won’t help. The system is broken. Anyone with a mentally ill family member can tell you the system doesn’t need money, it needs a complete overhaul. Mental illness and addiction go hand in hand. Most of the time mental health counselors cast off mentally ill who are self medication with substances or alcohol, which then causes a cycle of inpatient substance use…which is nearly impossible to get a bed for. We need dual centers for long term medication stabilization and substance use addiction services, they go hand in hand. a 72 hour hold at a hospital doesn’t help. Counseling for people who are on medications that aren’t stopping delusions is a joke. From experience with a family member, if delusions are still there, the medication isn’t working. Often the mentally ill person KNOWS how to hide the delusions from those who can treat them.This state is in crisis and more $$$ won’t help.

      1. From a family member of a mentally ill person, #1 is Communication with families and follow through with coordination from mental health, physical health, substance abuse, and caregivers. Currently the system, even if someone has lost the right to make decisions for themselves, can say NO and family can no longer talk to doctors about anything.

        In my families case this has been going on 43 years. Mental health wouldn’t talk to family practitioner. Meds interacted, med caused serious side effects and one doctor would take them off, and another would put right back on. Mentally ill are not good historians. They cannot tell you their history, accurately. Sometimes because of the delusions, sometimes the meds, sometimes they just don’t want to share.

        In my family members case she has been on the SAME drug for 43 years. They experiment with secondary drugs, but its a losing battle. Risperidone topped out at max possible dose nearly 25 years ago, but she is still on it and they keep adding others. Risperidone is not working. She has constant delusions, many have her act out physically. She’s often screaming at real people, but who are not even in this state. The current mental health team don’t see anything wrong with her behavior, yet she has to be in foster care full time and watched 24/7 because she is a danger to herself and others.

        Psychiatrists spend less than 6 hours with their patients a year. Counselors spend more time, deciding what “groups” they should go to. Nothing that has been tried in the last 10 years, has even made a slight improvement in my family members case.

        Substance use is not addressed. Instead they kick people out of care if caught using and they are then on their own on the streets and within the communities, off the rails. I know of several people in the Bend area who when on drugs are a CONSTANT Emergency Room visitors…but they can’t hold them because there are not enough beds.

        $$ won’t solve the broken system we have for medical and mental health care. Sadly most mentally ill have delusions of other health issues, and are emphatic about getting expensive testing, only to be found to be fine. Most medical doctors don’t have the training to deal with serious mental health cases. The lack of coordination ALWAYS leads to dangerous medication interactions, over prescribing, and often abuse of meds.

        I think the current amount of money already spent is wasted. I don’t believe it has to cost more. I believe we keep tossing more $$ at it, but realistically it should be cheaper and easier if we have coordinated healthcare staffing able to understand and follow the patient routinely. Some need daily interaction, other only need once a week and still others function fairly well, but have periods of issues due to issues in their lives.

        My family member has exhausted all of the funds she had amassed in her working days and her spouses. Hospitalizations are not cheap and insurance companies often dictate if a patient can or can’t stay, when their is a bed open at a hospital. Insurance is FOR PROFIT. They often deny inpatient programs in favor of the outpatient programs which rely on the patient not only have the ability to function enough to get there, but to feel the need to go there. Many can’t function to hold down a job, home, or car. The current system is a dismal failure and more $$$ is just a waste.

        1. Thanks for the details, sorry for the struggles and I’m not sure how what you call for in next to last graf, a logical and fair request, wouldn’t cost more $ – of course it would. And as you say, families resources exhausted, so we as a community must pay more, “invest,” whatever the term, to get people the help they need, the way they need it. Or it’s all for naught.

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