The commissioner shall establish a continuing care benefit program for persons with mental illness in which persons with mental illness may obtain acute care hospital inpatient treatment for mental illness for up to 45 days beyond that allowed by section 256.969. The commissioner may authorize additional days beyond 45 based on an individual review of medical necessity. Persons with mental illness who are eligible for medical assistance may obtain inpatient treatment under this program in hospital beds for which the commissioner contracts under this section. The commissioner may selectively contract with hospitals to provide this benefit through competitive bidding when reasonable geographic access by recipients can be assured. Payments under this section shall not affect payments under section 256.969. The commissioner may contract externally with a utilization review organization to authorize persons with mental illness to access the continuing care benefit program. The commissioner, as part of the contracts with hospitals, shall establish admission criteria to allow persons with mental illness to access the continuing care benefit program. If a court orders acute care hospital inpatient treatment for mental illness for a person, the person may obtain the treatment under the continuing care benefit program. The commissioner shall not require, as part of the admission criteria, any commitment or petition under chapter 253B as a condition of accessing the program. This benefit is not available for people who are also eligible for Medicare and who have not exhausted their annual or lifetime inpatient psychiatric benefit under Medicare. If a recipient is enrolled in a prepaid plan, this program is included in the plan's coverage.