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Behavioral Health
Medical Services Division

Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota (BCBSND) and North Dakota Health and Human Services today announced the addition of peer support as a covered service under the Medicaid Expansion program. 

Beginning Jan. 1, 2023, certified peer support specialists will be able to apply their lived experience to assist Medicaid Expansion members on their journey to recovery and wellness.

BCBSND administers coverage for Medicaid Expansion in North Dakota, which enables more people to access affordable coverage and preventive services.

“We are focused on creating a healthier tomorrow by partnering with providers in creative and innovative ways,” said Chelsey Matter, BCBSND Executive Director of Government Programs. “The addition of peer support services helps us expand coverage and better assist our members who have behavioral health concerns. This promising practice changes the trajectory of rural and behavioral health in our state and supports our goal of providing high-quality, accessible health care.”

A peer support specialist is a person who uses his or her lived experience of recovery from mental illness and/or addiction, plus skills learned in formal training, to deliver services to promote mind-body recovery and resiliency. Peer support compliments and is supplemental to clinical services. The role of a peer support specialist is distinct and does not replace the clinician. They bring hope by sharing their experiences and promote a sense of belonging. Peer support services improve whole health, decrease hospitalizations and inpatient stays, and can reduce health care costs.     

“We are excited to partner with BCBSND to enhance and streamline access to this proven and vital service,” said Behavioral Health Executive Director Pamela Sagness. 

“Peer support offers a level of acceptance, understanding and validation not found in many other professional relationships. We look forward to working with BCBSND, as they continue to address North Dakotan’s needs.” 

Peer support specialists have been recognized by both Mental Health America and the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration as a promising practice for individuals with behavioral health conditions. Since 2020, North Dakota has supported the use of peer support by adding peer support specialist certification through N.D. legislation Chapter 75-03-43.

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