CHA News Article

MACPAC Examines Medicaid’s Role in Providing Behavioral Health Services

The Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission (MACPAC) has released its June 2015 Report to Congress on Medicaid and CHIP, focusing on Medicaid’s role in providing behavioral health services. The report — the second of two reports to Congress MACPAC issues annually — takes a first look at the use of Medicaid services by beneficiaries with behavioral health conditions while also considering two related issues: the program’s role in covering care for neglected and abused children and the extent to which program beneficiaries are being prescribed psychotropic medications. According to the report, one in five Medicaid beneficiaries has a diagnosed behavioral health condition, and their care accounts for almost half of total Medicaid expenditures.

The report also points to low-income children under the protection of child welfare authorities as one group with high levels of unmet need for mental health care. For example, more than 40 percent of children in foster care had mental health diagnoses compared to 11 percent of other children with Medicaid. Nearly 25 percent of children enrolled in Medicaid based on child welfare assistance used a psychotropic medication, almost five times more than other non-disabled children.