Provisions of the 2010 health reform law, combined with mental health parity legislation, promise to make mental health care available to millions more Americans in 2014 through both private insurance and Medicaid. But, the sweeping changes that these laws make to financing for mental health care will require states, mental health providers, private insurers and patients to make major adjustments. As more people gain coverage, mental health experts fear that access to care could become an issue, and members of Congress already are introducing legislation to address this concern.
Will the workforce be sufficient to serve the needs of all the newly enrolled? Will states need to expand the capacity of their mental health centers, and how will changes in funding streams affect their ability to do so? How are states adapting to new federal insurance subsidies and potential matching revenue? Are community mental health centers prepared to bill Medicaid and insurance companies? What will the mental health care needs of the newly insured population be, and can providing mental health care to that population reduce their total health care costs or increase their productivity? Are there further benefits when mental health care is integrated with primary care, and what opportunities or challenges do the new laws create for integration?
A distinguished panel of experts addressed these and related questions.
Ted Lutterman, senior director of government and commercial research at the state mental health directors’ research institute, gave an overview of the complex web of payers, providers, and patients that comprise the U.S. mental health care system and explained how parts of the system are adapting to this new era.
John O’Brien, senior policy advisor for the Disabled and Elderly Health Programs Group at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), outlined the effects that the new laws have had on CMS’ priorities for mental health care and offered results from their demonstration projects.
Linda Rosenberg, president and CEO of the National Council for Behavioral Health, will give a national perspective of the effects that new laws are having on the mental health care system, and examine some of the challenges that remain.
Karl Wilson, former CEO of Crider Community Mental Health Center and Crider FQHC in Missouri, offered an on-the-ground perspective of the changes occurring in the U.S. mental health system, and specifically about Missouri’s integration of mental health and primary care.
Ed Howard of the Alliance and Andrew Hyman of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation co-moderated.