CHA News

DHCS Requests Extension of 1915(b) Speciality Mental Health Services Waiver

For CEOs, behavioral health directors

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On May 8,  the Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) formally requested an 18-month extension of the state’s current Medi-Cal Specialty Mental Health Services (SMHS) Waiver authorized under Section 1915(b) of the Social Security Act.

This 1915(b) waiver, originally approved by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), is set to expire on June 30. DHCS requested CMS’ approval to extend the term of the waiver through Dec. 31, 2021, to coincide with DHCS’ extension request for California’s Section 1115(a) Demonstration, titled “Medi-Cal 2020.” 

On June 2, DHCS received a response from CMS approving a six-month extension to Dec. 31, 2020, acknowledging the need for an additional extension request due to the delay of California Advancing and Innovating Medi-Cal that resulted from the COVID-19 public health emergency. CMS has assured DHCS of its commitment to work with the agency on the alignment of the further extension of the 1915(b) SMHS waiver and the 1115(a) waiver. Questions about the waiver can be directed to DHCS at