Advancing Access to Behavioral Health Services through State Medicaid Reforms

February 12th, 2020 | News


In our latest Health Affairs post, we discuss how to advance access to behavioral health services.

Deaths from suicide, alcohol, and drugs—what some call “deaths of despair”—increased 51% between 2005 and 2016. Despite improvements resulting from the Affordable Care Act and state implementation of Medicaid and mental health parity requirements, millions of Medicaid-eligible Americans who have mental health and substance use disorder (MH/SUD) conditions still lack access to behavioral health services and suffer disproportionately in the nation’s mental health crisis, including the current opioid and suicide epidemics.

Based on our work through the Delta Center for a Thriving Safety Net and interviews with national and state policy experts, our researchers describe three key state policy levers to end the nation’s mental health crisis:

  1. Expand Medicaid coverage.
  2. Ensure full implementation of parity laws.
  3. Overcome payment and capacity challenges in the behavioral health workforce.

State policy makers should use these levers to advance access and prevent the devastating consequences that unmet MH/SUD needs have on the lives of individuals and families.

Read more from our own James Maxwell, Angel Bourgoin, and Zoe Lindenfeld on Battling The Mental Health Crisis Among The Underserved Through State Medicaid Reforms.


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