Medicaid expansion has already had a huge impact on whether mental health needs are treated in certain populations. That may not be at the top of all the stories lately about the U.S. House of Representatives passing its replacement of the Affordable Care Act and the Senate considering its own version. But it is a significant piece of our country’s behavioral health puzzle. The expansion brought coverage to many low-income adults without children, a group that had largely been left out of Medicaid programs.
There’s a simple reason Medicaid has such a big impact on behavioral health – the program is a significant driver of payments for those services. Medicaid is also the basis for a lot of innovation in the mental health system, as states experiment with various approaches to better treat the whole person. Overall though, Medicaid programs still have a long way to go in meeting that goal and effectively reducing the silos between physical and mental health.
Those are a few big-picture takeaways that I discussed in greater detail during a recent educational call set up by the American Health Lawyers Association. It’s the nation’s largest educational organization devoted to legal issues in the health care field. If you’re a member, you can find more information here. Either way, you can contact me for more analysis of Medicaid law and behavioral health.