CHA News Article

GAO Report Studies Behavioral Health Options for Low-Income Adults

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has issued a report to Congress to provide information about access to behavioral health treatment for low-income, uninsured and Medicaid-enrolled adults. GAO studied six states that expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, as well as four non-expansion states, and examined how many low-income, uninsured adults may have a behavioral health condition. The report describes options for low-income, uninsured adults to receive behavioral health treatment in the selected non-expansion states and found that the six selected expansion states generally managed behavioral health and physical health benefits separately for newly eligible enrollees.

Four of the six selected states explicitly chose separate contractual arrangements for behavioral health and physical benefits. Officials from all six selected states said that enrollment in Medicaid increased the availability of behavioral health treatment for newly eligible enrollees, but also reported ongoing access concerns, such as workforce shortages. Though California was not one of the six expansion states included in the study, the findings may be useful for comparison purposes. In addition, some data for all 50 states are included in the report appendix.