California Healthline Daily Edition

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Low Income Health Plan Offers Ways To Expand Mental Health Services

The Low Income Health Program aims to expand mental health care services to low-income California adults, HealthyCal reports (Moran, HealthyCal, 1/8).

About the Low Income Health Program

LIHP is an optional federal program for California that can be established at the local level. It is part of the state's Bridge to Reform program that aims to expand health insurance coverage until certain federal health reform provisions take effect in 2014.

Counties that set up the program are required to expand services at clinics and access to primary care. The program offers matching federal funds on all local spending (California Healthline, 9/21/11).

Mental Health Initiatives

LIHP provides a standard for minimum mental health coverage. The minimum mental health benefits include 10 days of acute inpatient treatment and up to 12 outpatient treatments annually, as well as psychiatric medications.

Individuals who earn slightly more than the federal poverty level are eligible for the benefits. Counties that participate in the program must offer the minimum benefits but can offer additional benefits, such as substance misuse services. Counties also can give higher-income individuals the ability to enroll in the program.

The state Department of Health Care Services is conducting an analysis of the program to determine mental health care needs in various population groups. The state is expected to issue its results by March 2013 (HealthyCal, 1/8).

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