- Helping Employees with Mental Health Issues Get Back to Work
Carrie Steckl, Ph.D.: Oct 20th 2015
- Secrecy at Work: A Growing Phenomenon
Carrie Steckl, Ph.D.: Oct 15th 2015
- Life Goals and the Perception of Time: Do It Now!
Carrie Steckl, Ph.D.: Oct 1st 2014
- Tackling Mental Illness Stigma at the College Level
Carrie Steckl, Ph.D.: Sep 24th 2014
- Social Workers in Emergency Rooms: An Idea Long Overdue
Carrie Steckl, Ph.D.: Sep 17th 2014
- New Biochemical Research Points to Five Types of Depression
Carrie Steckl, Ph.D.: Sep 10th 2014
- Challenges Increase for Family Caregivers when Cognitive and Behavioral Issues are Present
Carrie Steckl, Ph.D.: Sep 5th 2014
- Are You a Caregiver?
Carrie Steckl, Ph.D.: Aug 29th 2014
- To Age with Joy, Be True to Yourself
Carrie Steckl, Ph.D.: Aug 26th 2014
- Eight Ways to Take Care of Yourself During a Health Crisis
Carrie Steckl, Ph.D.: Aug 22nd 2014
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Don't Reduce Services If You're Going to Expand Coverage
Carrie Steckl, Ph.D.: Tue, Jan 14th 2014
A few months ago, I wrote about an aspect of the Affordable Care Act that made me happy - namely, the requirement that insurers cover treatment for mental illness to the same degree as they cover treatment for physical illnesses. This was a significant victory for people experiencing mental illness and their families because it recognizes that mental health care is just as important as other types of health care.
I'm still happy about this, but another article that appeared recently in the Chicago Tribune opened my eyes to the larger picture surrounding the expansion of mental health coverage. Keep in mind that the article focuses on Illinois, but I imagine that several other states are dealing with these circumstances. From the article, I learned that through the Affordable Care Act, mental health coverage is also expanding for the seriously mentally ill who previously had no coverage. These folks are now eligible for Medicaid, which will pay for mental health services such as individual and group therapy, residential treatment, and psychiatric services including medication management.
Under the new guidelines, Illinois expects over 140,000 new Medicaid enrollees who need mental health services. Sounds great for them, right? And it will be great for them - as long as there are actually enough providers available to deliver those services.
Long before the Affordable Care Act was implemented, Illinois was experiencing a serious shortage of psychiatrists and other mental health professionals, particularly in impoverished neighborhoods where many of the most seriously mentally ill are found. To make matters worse, Illinois' budget for mental health services was cut $113 million between 2009 and 2011. Among other closings and staff reductions, these cuts resulted in the closing of 6 of the 12 mental health clinics in the city of Chicago.
That's right - half of Chicago's mental health clinics are gone. The remaining clinics are so understaffed compared to the influx of displaced clients that they have decided to turn down new Medicaid clients and only see current clients who enroll in Medicaid while already receiving services.
How in the world are we going to meet the mental health needs of the tens of thousands of new Medicaid clients who sign up under the Affordable Care Act when we don't even have enough mental health providers to serve our current client population?
This was bad, bad planning. Actually, it was simply "non-planning." I'm not saying that new enrollees don't need or deserve services, because they very much do. I'm simply saying that we shouldn't make promises we can't keep. I'm going to be watching this closely and praying that my worst fears are not realized.
Graham, J. (January 9, 2014). Mentally ill, poor - but insured: Psychiatric coverage expands; resources are a question mark. Chicago Tribune (Online Kindle version).