Medicaid expansion and the mental health budget

The article below points out some amazing facts about the relationship of medicaid expansion to the mental health budget in many states. It is well worth reading and pondering.

Overall roughly 40% of state mental health budget dollars go towards paying for services for poor people with little or no insurance. In 2009 it amounted to over 16 billion dollars. With mental health parity now the law of the land mental health expenses can only go up. When a state like Tennessee refuses to accept federal dollars for medicaid expansion the only possible result is a growing strain on state mental health budgets that in the end can only hurt an already hurting system. It will be a larger and larger hole with more and more people trapped in it.

In Tennessee we see the developing storm. Let me start by saying I have no inside facts. What follows is my attempt to make sense of things. If anyone wants to share better sense I will gladly listen.

A large portion of the Tennessee state funds for mental health goes to people with little or no insurance. The behavioral health safety net and state psychiatric hospitals are part of the expense but by no means all of it. The money that the state could save in mental health spending will as things stand now not happen.
Mental health parity will drive the costs up in unspecified ways. In the last 8 years we have cut over 165,000 dollars in tax income from state coffers. Not suprisingly when too much demand is tied to too little money someone is going to be left out.

Unless something changes the peer support centers in Tennessee will be eliminated. 4.5 million dollars will be saved. I dont know how you count what will be lost. Perhaps a bandaid will be found and we may escape the choices ahead. I hope so. I fervently hope so.

The savings of mental health dollars that medicaid expansion might give is all I can see that offer the opportunity to build a system that really does work and doesnt have to be refought each year. Let Governor Haslam know what you think.

The Washington Post
(from Easy Browser)

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