CHA News Article

New Data Available on Children’s Behavioral Health Care Use in Medicaid

The Center for Health Care Strategies, Inc. (CHCS) has released new data on behavioral health care use by children covered under the Medicaid program. Part of an upcoming report analyzing 2011 Medicaid claims, the data reflect that roughly 11 percent of children in Medicaid use behavioral health services. While children in foster care and those on SSI/disability represent less than 8 percent of the overall Medicaid child population, they account for 28 percent of behavioral health services and 49 percent of total behavioral health service expenses. Almost 50 percent of children in Medicaid who are prescribed psychotropic medications receive no accompanying services, such as medication management or counseling.

The report also notes that because these children often participate in multiple public programs, they are frequently at risk for fragmented care and poor health outcomes at high costs. CHCS recommends several strategies for improvement, including expanding access to appropriate and effective behavioral health care, investing in care coordination models that facilitate delivery of needed services and supports, and ensuring collaboration across systems to increase care coordination and medication oversight.