Bridging the Gap: Policy Updates Shaking Up Integrated Care

Integrated behavioral health care is getting a major boost thanks to recent policy updates that aim to increase reimbursements for integrated care and promote collaboration among healthcare providers. In the latest episode of Bridging the Gap Briefings, Matt Miclette, VP of Clinical Operations at NeuroFlow, delves into two key policy changes that could dramatically reshape the integrated care landscape.

Listen to the full episode below and read on for top takeaways!

Improved Data Sharing for Substance Use Disorder

First up is the update to 42 CFR Part Two, a regulation that dates back to 1975 and aims to protect the confidentiality of patients receiving treatment for substance use disorders. While the need for confidentiality remains crucial, the recent modifications by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) seek to enhance integrated care while still safeguarding patient privacy.

Under the updated rules, patients can now provide consent for their records to be shared more easily for treatment, payment, and healthcare operations. This streamlined process allows healthcare teams to collaborate more effectively. Certain types of healthcare organizations can share patient records, but with limitations in place to protect privacy. Patients also have greater rights, including the ability to find out who accessed their records and request restrictions on sharing in certain cases.

Miclette explains, “These updates make it easier for healthcare providers to work together to help patients with substance use disorders, while making sure patient information stays private.” For providers and healthcare administrators, this presents an opportunity to develop solutions that align with the new regulations and support integrated care efforts.

Increased Reimbursements for Integrated Care

The second policy update is the Better Mental Health Care, Lower-Cost Drugs, and Extenders Act, more concisely referred to as the Extenders Act. This bipartisan bill, recently approved by the Senate Finance Committee, aims to expand access to behavioral health treatment.

One of the most significant aspects of the Extenders Act is the incentive it provides for integrating behavioral health into primary care. Starting in 2026, payments for certain behavioral health integration services under the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule would see a substantial boost. This rate increase, which would gradually phase out over time, is designed to help health systems offset the startup costs associated with implementing evidence-based models like the Collaborative Care Model (CoCM).

“If you’re ready to implement CoCM in 2026, you’ll get the full benefits of these incentives to start your program. But in order to take advantage of that, your planning must start now,” Miclette advises.

The Extenders Act also addresses telehealth, substance use disorder treatment for vulnerable populations, and high drug prescription costs, among other initiatives. The bill has been introduced in the Senate, but in order to become law, it must pass in both the Senate and the House. 

Looking Ahead

As the integrated care landscape continues to evolve, these policy updates will represent a significant step forward in promoting collaboration, improving access to behavioral health services, and ultimately enhancing patient outcomes. To learn more about these initiatives, and in particular to help the Extenders Act become a reality, Miclette recommends following The Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute and Shatterproof–two organizations dedicated to turning the Extenders Act and similar policies into law.

“These policy changes matter because they have the potential to make a real difference in patients’ lives,” says Miclette. “By breaking down the systemic barriers to integrated care and increasing access to behavioral healthcare services, we can help people get the care they need when they need it.”

Ellen Harvey is the Senior Content Marketing Manager at NeuroFlow. She has over nine years of experience writing about technology and innovation for business leaders. At NeuroFlow, she writes about prominent trends in behavioral health and illustrates how NeuroFlow's technology helps healthcare, payor, and government organizations improve the well-being of their constituents.

Enter your keyword