Effective July 1, the Wyoming Department of Health will not longer pay for individuals who qualify for Medicaid or private insurance to access mental health care from the Wyoming Behavioral System.

“For many years, our department has paid millions of state dollars to community mental health centers to help ensure access for Wyoming residents who sought care for mental health and substance use related issues regardless of their ability to pay,” said Stefan Johansson, WDH director. “It’s one of our largest budget items and is clearly important, but there have been challenges.”

Some individuals will no longer be eligible for state-supported services from the community mental health center network. The Wyoming Department of Health wants to, instead, focus on acute psychiatric adults, criminal justice involved clients, high needs children and families, and low income and indigent general access populations.

Johansson said, “We really want to help ensure high-needs people facing serious mental illness do not fall through the cracks before their needs grow. As we have carefully prepared for these changes, a focus for our department and our partners has been to help answer the question of ‘What is state government’s role?’

All residents seeking state-paid health centers must now submit an application through Wyoming Medicaid. This doesn't mean they have to be eligble for Medicaid to receive help; this step is designed to check for other potential pay sources beyond the state's general funds and verify income, citizenship and residency with efficiency.

Currently the state is funding people with incomes 200% above the Federal Poverty Level "who do not have significant behavioral health needs" notes WDH policy analyst Franz Fuchs. For those in this group who do not already have insurance, heavily subsidized insurance is likely available through the federal marketplace.

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