Create a common MH/SUD data model

Prevention, Early Intervention, & Youth
Parity, Coverage, & Equitable Access
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social determinants of health
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Coverage & Standards
Value-based Care
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Federal department
Health and Human Services
Executive Office of the President (EOP)
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Federal departments and agencies should make mental health and substance use disorder (MH/SUD) data collection and reporting a top priority by finalizing a proposed rule to require states to report on MH/SUD measures in Medicaid, creating a common MH/SUD data model and reporting portal that all recipients of federal MH/SUD funds must use, reestablishing the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Data Council, and adding new MH/SUD vital statistics records to the National Vital Statistics System (NVSS) that are updated monthly.


There are numerous federal, state, and local agencies working to improve MH/SUD outcomes in the country. However, these agencies often work in their own lanes, siloed in goals, data, and metrics. Federal agencies overseeing state and local government programs often do not have the ability to access key data and metrics relevant to agency efforts or share across agencies, and state and local programs often do not have the data systems capacity to manage information on their programs. This leads to programs and initiatives that operate in silos, independently of each other, and a wide inability of the government to collect data on mental health and addiction programming outcomes, conduct research, share information, or tailor programs that build on the lessons learned from previous programs and grants. Today’s information and cloud-based technology opens up new opportunities to allow valuable data to be protected and shared across federal agencies. An integrated data systems approach can address these challenges, and improve cross-agency coordination, data collection and research, and program outcomes.

In 2016, the 21st Century Cures Act (Cures Act) effectively made sharing electronic health information an expected norm in health care. The Cures Act took nearly seven years to implement a common general health data format, but there has not been a similar effort to define MH/SUD common data needs.[1] In August 2022, CMS proposed rules to improve Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) quality reporting across states. The proposed rule would make it mandatory for states to annually report on three different MH/SUD measure sets, including core sets for children’s health in Medicaid and CHIP, mental health and addiction measures in adult health in Medicaid, and health home quality measures in Medicaid.[2] CMS should finalize its proposed rule to make it mandatory for states to annually report MH/SUD measures for adults, children, and health homes.

Additionally, all agencies providing MH/SUD funding – including the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), and CMS –should work to create and use a core MH/SUD data model, leveraging previous data modeling efforts undertaken by SAMHSA and CMS as part of the 21st Century Cures Act. These agencies should use one common data collection portal and require all community block grants to include common core data reporting elements in tracking and reporting. To support this effort, HHS should reestablish its HHS Data Council, chaired by the Office of the National Center for Health Information Technology, and extend its responsibility to include data management.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention should also update the NVSS in its existing NVSS modernization efforts by adding new MH/SUD statistics records, including national statistics at the city and county level, and provide timely data updated monthly. These standards have not been updated since 2003. Future phases could include progress reporting and dashboard creation. Each NVSS report could be linked to the community-block grants, as well as link services to payers, HRSA, SAMHSA, and state and local health agencies, so that the value of the investment can be tracked.


1. The 21st Century Cures Act. H.R.34 (Bomamici-Rohrabacher), 114th Congress (2015-2016). Last Updated December 13, 2016.

2. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. “Medicaid Program and CHIP; Mandatory Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) Core Set Reporting.” Last Updated August 22, 2022.