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More states ride the wave of mental-medical care coordination


Mental illness drives the majority of Medicaid costs, prompting Florida to offer the first Medicaid plan designed specifically for people who have serious mental health issues, Kaiser Health News reported.

By not having to contract with separate companies for mental health coverage, the new plan offered by Connecticut-based Magellan Complete Care will enable better coordination of physical and mental healthcare services among Medicaid beneficiaries.

Florida will automatically assign qualified beneficiaries to the new plan, but they can switch out of the mental health plan within 90 days of enrollment. Members will have care coordination teams of nurses, doctors and specialists, as well as a personal health guide to help schedule appointments, arrange transportation and follow treatment plans, KHN noted.

The wave of state efforts to coordinate physical and mental care for Medicaid recipients also includes a program in Arizona where Medicaid enrollees with serious mental illness can receive physical and mental health services from providers that share their information. Minnesota has a program that pays providers one fee for all physical and behavioral health services, the article noted.

States also should look into connecting behavioral and medical health for patients eligible for both Medicaid and Medicare. Doing so is key to streamlining care and curbing costs for the dual-eligible patient population, according to psychiatrists from WellPoint and Molina Healthcare.

However, barriers to better coordinating mental care remain, including a lack of awareness about mental health and the stigma associated with getting help, according to American Psychological Association CEO Norman B. Anderson, Ph.D. He cited a survey that found only 4 percent of Americans are aware of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act. Moreover, Anderson pointed to various reports of insurance coverage at odds with the parity law.

"Certainly, insurers do not apply pressure to patients with chronic medical conditions, such as diabetes or heart disease," he wrote.

For more:
- read the KHN article
- here's the APA commentary

Related Articles:
White House continues pressure for Medicaid expansion
Feds, states successfully pilot exchange of behavioral health data
ACA brings mixed news on mental health benefits
Connect behavioral and medical health to better serve dual eligibles