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Tennessee’s mental health safety net program to expand

NASHVILLE — Public health officials say more Tennesseans are now eligible for free mental health services under the state’s behavior health safety net program.

Under legislation that went into effect Monday, the mental health program for the state’s uninsured was given an additional $5 million. It broadened eligibility by changing the income criteria from 100% of the federal poverty level to 138%. The change will allow up to 7,000 more Tennesseans to receive safety net services.

The expansion was pitched by Gov. Bill Lee and later adopted by the Tennessee Statehouse during this year’s legislative session.

The behavioral health safety net program serves an estimated 32,000 Tennesseans annually. It was first launched in 2005 and is overseen by the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.

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