ACA Could Help Close Mental Health Care Gaps in Calif., Study Finds
The Affordable Care Act is expected to help close gaps in mental health care services for California residents, according to a study by the California HealthCare Foundation, the Los Angeles Times reports.
CHCF publishes California Healthline.
Among California residents with mental health problems, about half of adults and two-thirds of adolescents do not receive treatment, the study found.
When patients seek mental health care services, they often do so through public health programs because private insurers historically have lacked coverage for such treatment.
In fiscal year 2012-2013, California spent almost $7.8 billion on mental health care services, including $3.3 billion for Medi-Cal beneficiaries.
Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program (Gorman, Los Angeles Times, 7/17).
Under the ACA, a state expansion of Medi-Cal will allow individuals with incomes up to 138% of the federal poverty level, or $15,415 annually, to gain coverage (California Healthline, 6/28).
The Medi-Cal expansion is expected to extend coverage to an additional 125,000 state residents who need mental health services, according to the study.
Health plans offered through the state health insurance exchange -- developed under the ACA -- also will include mental health coverage.
The law also promotes more integration between physical and mental health care services.
However, researchers said that policymakers still will face challenges expanding mental health care services in the state. For example, the state will have to connect patients with treatment and make sure there are enough mental health care providers in California.
Neal Adams -- a psychiatrist and deputy director of the California Institute for Mental Health -- said "there is a really serious question about how and where those needs are going to be met," adding, "People are very worried about [physician] shortages" (Los Angeles Times, 7/17).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.