On May 4, the Alliance for Health Reform held a briefing on the role of primary care in addressing the growing need for behavioral health services. At the hearing, speakers representing federal agencies, health care organizations and advocacy groups outlined the state of the nation’s behavioral health care services and the challenges payers and providers can expect in the near future.
The upcoming Medicaid expansion will make care more accessible for millions of Americans with behavioral health conditions, but will accordingly increase demand on hospitals, community health centers, and providers who are already stretched thin and underfunded. Due to the high rates of co-morbidity between chronic disease and mental illness and the prevalence of both in lower-income patient populations, many of these newly covered patients will present complex cases and will require treatment from both primary care and behavioral health providers. Poor care coordination and a lack of preventive care options decrease the quality of care that individuals in need of behavioral health services receive and often lead them to present repeatedly in high-cost care settings like hospital emergency departments.
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A novel approach to providing care for mental health patients—called the clubhouse model—has been found to improve patients’ recovery, reduce rehospitalizations, and provide a sense of belonging.
Following a set of standards established by the International Center for Clubhouse Development, more than 300 clubhouses around the world have been set up based on the belief that recovery from a serious mental illness requires a community-based and culturally-sensitive approach. In addition to the clinical benefits they provide, these clubhouses have been found to have cost-saving implications.
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