Accessing Behavioral Health Services in Schools

Did you know that students in Arizona who receive Medicaid benefits can access behavioral health services in the school setting? AHCCCS helps school administrators and leaders connect with behavioral health providers statewide to meet their students' needs.

While schools have historically been approved settings for Medicaid-covered behavioral health services, in 2018 $3 million in state General Fund dollars were appropriated to expand behavioral health services in schools; $1 million of this funding is being used in a partnership with the Arizona Department of Education to provide mental health training to schools and school districts. The remaining dollars are matched with Federal Funds to generate $10 million in Medicaid funding to AHCCCS health plans to bring established behavioral health providers into the school setting, meet Medicaid-eligible students where they are and where they have a health needs, and pay for Medicaid-covered behavioral health services in schools.

AHCCCS staff is also working to improve partnerships between behavioral health providers and school administrators. A list of service billing codes approved for use in school settings may be found here.

Current projects include:

Project AWARE: In collaboration with the Arizona Department of Education, AHCCCS is working with three school districts to implement Mental Health First Aid training. This training has been shown to improve behavioral health outcomes and reduce suicides. During the next five years of this grant, approximately 12,000 students and staff at Piñon Unified School District on the Navajo Nation, Glendale Unified School District, and Sunnyside Unified School District in Tucson will receive access to mental health training.

ADE Training Partnership: In 2018, Governor Ducey led the Safe Arizona Schools Plan which included funding for investing in mental and behavioral health resources at schools. With $1M in funding, the Arizona Department of Education and AHCCCS signed an agreement to partner efforts in expanding access to behavioral health training in schools statewide. The goal of this partnership is to implement an evidence-based curriculum focused on education school personnel and students on commonly-occurring behavioral health issues to reduce stigma and empower schools to appropriately recognize and intervene.

Arizona Medicaid School-Based Claiming Program: Arizona participates in two Medicaid reimbursement programs for school based services, the Direct Service Claiming (DSC) program and the Medicaid Administrative Claiming (MAC) program. These two school-based programs assist participating school districts, referred to as Local Education Agencies (LEAs), including charter schools and the Arizona School for the Deaf and Blind (ASDB), by reimbursing them for their costs to provide Medicaid covered services to eligible students. The purpose of the DSC Program is to allow LEAs to receive reimbursement for the cost to provide Medicaid covered medical services to Title XIX eligible students. The purpose of the MAC program is to allow LEAs to receive reimbursement for Medicaid administrative outreach activities that are done routinely within the school setting. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is the federal agency that oversees these two school-based programs. In Arizona, these programs are overseen by the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS), Arizona's Medicaid agency. AHCCCS contracts with a Third Party Administrator (TPA), PCG, to administer both the DSC and MAC programs.

The Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) is Arizona’s Managed Care Medicaid Program, developed as a result of Title XIX of the Social Security Act. While AHCCCS also administers other state and federal health care programs, only Title XIX members are eligible for the DSC Program. The Medicaid Administrative Claiming (MAC) program is one of the two federally funded programs endorsed by the Arizona Department of Education (ADE) and AHCCCS. AHCCCS is the agency that develops the policies and administers the Medicaid School Based Claiming Program through PCG and in collaboration with the ADE.