Maine DHHS: Governor’s Proposed $30 Million Will Strengthen Behavioral Health System

Investments proposed in Governor Mills’ supplemental budget support providers, services for adults and children, and advance violence prevention and public safety

AUGUSTA— Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew today welcomed $30 million in proposed investments to strengthen Maine’s behavioral health system through the Governor’s new supplemental budget proposal, saying that it would help fill gaps in the continuum of behavioral health services.

The investments support the urgent needs of providers of mental health and substance use disorder (SUD) services, individuals in crisis, and children in state custody while advancing initiatives to prevent violence and keep Maine people safe. They build on the Mills Administration’s unprecedented support for behavioral health services. Every budget signed into law by Governor Mills has increased funding for behavioral health and DHHS has worked to bridge gaps in Maine’s behavioral health continuum of services.

“This new budget builds on the Mills’ Administration’s substantial work to fill gaps in the continuum of behavioral health, from prevention to crisis services,” said DHHS Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew. “Improving and maintaining mental health and preventing and treating substance use disorders are fundamental to strong families, communities, and the economy.”

The Governor’s supplemental budget proposal announced today would:

  • Support behavioral health providers: $24 million ($8.2 million General Fund) in State and Federal funds would fund cost-of-living rate increases for behavioral health providers through MaineCare (Medicaid), as the Governor announced in part one of her State of the State Address. This funding to help providers contend with inflation and rising costs and support their workforces builds on the nearly half a billion in MaineCare payment increases for behavioral health services that the Department invested in the FY22-23 and FY24-25 biennial budgets.
  • Bolster Crisis Response: The supplemental budget would enhance services for people experiencing a behavioral health crisis through two complementary investments:
  • $950,000 in onetime funding to for capital costs to establish a crisis receiving center in Lewiston, supported by $450,000 in ongoing funding for operations while the Department develops a plan for a broader network that provides greater access to behavioral health services for people across the state. As the Governor announced in part two of her State of the State Address, this statewide network of crisis receiving centers – a proven model of behavioral crisis response and service – builds on the successful Portland center that the State opened with partners in 2022, where individuals experiencing a mental health or substance use crisis can get immediate, appropriate, and no cost care.
  • $2.8 million in State ($633,000 in ongoing General Fund) and enhanced Federal matching funds for Fiscal Year 2025 to strengthen mobile crisis response through a comprehensive MaineCare (Medicaid) payment model. This model will support a trauma-informed approach and teams comprised of specially trained behavioral health responders, including peers, who de-escalate mental health and substance use crises, assess needs, and refer to services at an appropriate level of care in the least restrictive setting. Mobile Crisis teams which are dispatched to the location of a person in crisis through 988 – Maine’s 24/7centralized crisis lifeline – are a critical safety-net service that the Mills Administration has effectively worked with providers and national experts for the past two years to strengthen and improve. In 2023, Maine Mobile Crisis responded to 14,849 encounters, 93 percent of which occurred within two hours of referral and 99 percent of which avoided hospitalization.
  • Add Funding for Extreme Risk Protection Order Assessments: $422,400 in State funds to support the surge in assessments conducted under the extreme risk protection order law since the tragedy in Lewiston. The Governor announced in part two of her State of the State Address that the law has been used 15 times more in the three months after the shooting in Lewiston than it had been used for the three years it was on the books before.
  • Support the health of children in state care:As DHHS announced last week, $1.3 million ($747,000 General Fund) in state and Federal funds would support services related to behavioral health for children in state custody. Specifically, the budget proposes funding for room and board, clothing, activities, and respite to support the full implementation of Therapeutic Intensive Foster Care Homes, a team approach to caring for youth with high behavioral health needs that supports they and their parents/caregivers in successfully living in a family setting. In addition, it proposes funding for a new comprehensive foster child assessment service under MaineCare that provides timely, comprehensive evaluations for youth entering foster care that aligns with the Child Welfare League of America and the American Academy of Pediatrics Standards. Furthermore, it would add a position to help coordinate high-fidelity wrap-around services which will help keep children and youth out of emergency departments.

These proposed investments build on the Mills Administration’s demonstrated commitment to strengthening the behavioral health system, including:

  • Investing nearly $20 million in Federal and State funds in the 24-25 biennium to accelerate and intensify implementation of Maine’s comprehensive children’s behavioral health plan, including $2.1 million in ongoing General Fund funding to establish a High Fidelity Wrap-Around program for Medicaid-eligible youth to provide coordinated community services, training, and other supports
  • Implementing 988 in July of 2022, improving access to the state crisis hotline and to regional mobile crisis and crisis residential services across the State
  • Investing $3.5 million to support an innovative walk-in crisis center in Kennebec County and expanded SUD treatment beds in Washington County
  • Opening Maine’s first close supervision residential facility in January 2022 to provide an alternative to incarceration and hospitalization for justice involved patients who do not meet the criteria for inpatient psychiatric care
  • Awarding $6 million to increase capacity of residential SUD treatment, with more than 100 new residential treatment beds having been or being created, building on the Administration's improvements to MaineCare payments for SUD residential treatment providers
  • Establishing the OPTIONS Program statewide to work alongside local emergency services and law enforcement to provide therapeutic interventions, outreach, referrals and post-overdose follow-up for individuals; doubling the OPTIONS Liaisons statewide in 2023; and adding 9 recovery coaches to OPTIONS teams in 2024
  • Establishing with the Governor’s support a Housing First Program to support 24-7 housing stability and support services for people who are chronically unsheltered
  • Including $20 million in the Maine Jobs and Recovery Plan to support health care workforce training, including significant investments in the behavioral health workforce.
  • Publishing a comprehensive Behavioral Health Plan for Maine in response to Resolves 2021, Ch. 80 (LD 1262).