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State Strategies for Integrating Physical and Behavioral Health Services in a Changing Medicaid Env.

Thursday, September 11, 2014   (0 Comments)
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The Commonwealth Fund recently released State Strategies for Integrating Physical and Behavioral Health Services in a Changing Medicaid Environment. Many states are working to advance integrated health care as part of their efforts to deliver care that results in better outcomes, increased patient satisfaction, and cost effectiveness to Medicaid beneficiaries with both physical and behavioral health conditions. The efforts to ensure that Medicaid beneficiaries have access to integrated health care, however, are challenged by the fragmented behavioral health system, administered and regulated by multiple state agencies (health, mental health, substance use, etc) and varying levels of local, county and state government, and by purchasing models that separate behavioral health services from other Medicaid-covered services.

Structures that govern state administration, regulation, and procurement have not kept up with emerging and bestpractices in the delivery of integrated health care to Medicaid recipients with both physical and behavioral healthconditions. Systemic barriers remain: policy, program, practice and financing, just to name a few. Persons with both physical and behavioral healthconditions are among Medicaid’s most medically complex and costly cases. There is a large body of evidence showing that patients have better health outcomes when both their physical and behavioral health needs are addressed together.

The report emphasizes there is no singular route through which all states will be able to achieve integrated behavioral and physical health care and that the best strategy (or combination of strategies) will depend largely on a state’s political climate, health careenvironment and political will.The report concludes that regardless of the approach, states will succeed only with a cohesive framework with policies in place that enable health care providers to deliver high quality, integratedhealth care to Medicaid beneficiaries with both comorbid physical and behavioral health conditions.


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