HHS report: Medicaid expansion could improve behavioral health


This article by Daniel Ducassi appeared in Politico on Mar. 28, 2016. We thought it would be informative for our clients and our community.

Medicaid Expansion Could Help 2.8 Million Floridians Who Suffer From Mental Illness

A report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released Monday found that Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act could help those with behavioral health needs.

“Among low-income adults, Medicaid expansion is associated with a reduction in unmet need for mental health and substance use disorder treatment,” the 17-page report states.

According to the report, of the 2.8 million Floridians who suffered from mental illness or substance use disorder in 2014, 726,000 of them are uninsured, and 309,000 had income below 138 percent of the federal poverty level, the cut-off to be eligible for Medicaid under ACA expansion.

HHS projects that 69,000 fewer Florida residents would experience symptoms of depression, and that 100,000 more Floridians would report being in good health or better if the state expands Medicaid.

The Florida House and Gov. Rick Scott opposed Medicaid expansion in 2015.

After a failed attempt in 2015 to pass mental health legislation, the Legislature was able to pass a series of changes to the state’s mental health and substance abuse treatment system, including a new law aimed at giving the criminal justice system better tools to address those problems.

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