Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Changes and Challenges for Mental and Behavioral Health Providers

As Kentucky’s Senate Bill 192 highlights, coverage and treatment of substance abuse problems is dramatically changing, as the current penal model is slowly being replaced with a treatment model. Even terminology for what has been called "drug addiction" is now referred to as a "substance disorder" problem. Behavioral health has become the new catchall name for both mental health and substance disorders.

As substance disorders become medical problems rather than drug abuse problems, the Federal Mental Health Parity Act and the Affordable Care Act now mandate that substance disorders and mental health problems, which often go hand in hand, must be covered by health insurance just as medical problems are covered. As of January 1, 2015, these illnesses must also covered by Medicare and Medicaid. Paving the road for coverage, however, has not been easy, as a wealth of new federal and state government regulations are creating a complicated framework with a host of changes for behavioral health providers. While Kentucky struggles to provide and pay for services for the 150,000+ new Medicaid beneficiaries, these new laws and regulations significantly affect not just behavioral health providers, but also employers as the struggle to treat individuals who suffer from these maladies is addressed.