Medicaid Emergency Psychiatric Demonstration - Update

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A few weeks ago we noted the announcement of 11 states and the District of Columbia who would be participating in the Medicaid Emergency Psychiatric Demonstration, established under the Affordable Care Act to test whether Medicaid beneficiaries who are experiencing a psychiatric emergency get more immediate, appropriate care when institutions for mental diseases (IMDs) receive Medicaid reimbursement. At that time we encouraged Network members to pay close attention to this Demonstration, paying particular attention to the needs of young adults.

In a Kaiser Health News post today discussing this Demonstration, Chris Koyanagi, policy director at the Judge David L. Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, is quoted saying "it is unclear that substituting federal dollars for state dollars would help patients, especially if state savings aren’t invested in community-based services for this population. It’s the failure to fund the community that’s creating the shortage,” she said.  Without better funding for community-based services, it’s impossible to know the true extent of access problems... As for the demonstration specifically, Koyanagi said she is concerned that state hospitals are unable to participate, especially because they are well connected to community-based services that can ensure a patient has a smooth transition out of the hospital." Read the full article here.

Koyanagi's last point is important - if state hospitals are not part of the mix then close attention will need to be paid to what the transition to community services looks like as the Demonstration unfolds.

We will keep watching.

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