Optum has adopted the Level of Care Utilization System (LOCUS), the Child and Adolescent Service Intensity Instrument (CASII) and the Early Childhood Service Intensity Instrument (ECSII) for guidance on clinical criteria decisions for the treatment of behavioral health conditions across most Commercial and Medicaid membership.
- Level of Care Utilization System (LOCUS) – a standardized level of care assessment tool developed by the American Association of Community Psychiatrists used to make medical necessity determinations and placement decisions for adults.
- Child and Adolescent Service Intensity Instrument (CASII) – a standardized assessment tool developed by the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) used to make medical necessity determinations and to provide level of service intensity for children and adolescents ages 6-18.
- Early Childhood Service Intensity Instrument (ECSII) – a standardized assessment tool developed by the AACAP used to make medical necessity determinations and to provide level of service intensity for children ages 0-5.
While our previous behavioral health level of care criteria were developed with consideration of evidence-based literature and clinical criteria established by professional organizations, we have moved to these externally developed guidelines for a number of reasons:
- Externally validated: L/C/E criteria were created and updated based on the changing landscape of evidence informed care, market and regulatory considerations, and feedback from stakeholders across the care system.
- Common language drives improved care: The use of these guidelines creates a common language for providers with payers, regulators, and other stakeholders of the care system, which results in a clearer understanding of patient needs. The six dimensions provide a more holistic view of acuity and chronicity of behavioral condition, thereby promoting more appropriate care for patients and a better overall experience.
- Effective management of behavioral health services: Three main concepts need to be considered and balanced in effectively managing behavioral health services: (1) Use of wrap-around services; (2) tailored to specific age of the member; and, (3) adopts a system of care approach. The L/C/E criteria best meet all three of these concepts.
Please note, we will continue to use The ASAM Criteria, developed by the American Society of Addiction Medicine, as the clinician criteria for substance use disorder services.
LOCUS/CASII/ECSII are now effective in all states unless superseding state, federal, contractual or customer requirements apply unless superseding state, federal, contractual or customer requirements apply. Note that some markets and programs are already using these guidelines.
LOCUS clinical assessment information can be found on the Guidelines/Policies & Manuals page. We are unable to provide AACAP copyrighted materials for CASII and ECSII; however, links to optional training information offered through AACAP can be found on the right side of this page.
Frequently Asked Questions (rev. 1/2020)
Below are links to current training resources provided by Deerfield Solutions and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. For more information, visit these websites: