More Leeway for States to Expand Inpatient Mental Health
Trump administration allowing states to seek Medicaid funds to expand inpatient mental health care.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration Tuesday allowed states to provide more inpatient treatment for people with serious mental illness by tapping Medicaid, a potentially far-reaching move to address issues from homelessness to violence.
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar made the announcement Tuesday in a speech to state Medicaid directors, a group that represents Republican and Democratic officials from around the country who are confronting common, deeply-rooted social problems.
A longstanding federal law has barred Medicaid from paying for mental health treatment in facilities with more than 16 beds, to prevent "warehousing" of the mentally ill at the expense of federal taxpayers. Azar said states will now be able to seek waivers from that restriction, provided they can satisfy certain specific requirements.
"We have the worst of both worlds: limited access to inpatient treatment and limited access to other options," said Azar, who stressed that inpatient care has to be combined with community-based services.
"Given the history, it is the responsibility of state and federal governments together, alongside communities and families, to right this wrong," Azar added. "More treatment options are needed, and that includes more inpatient and residential options that can help stabilize Americans with serious mental illness."
"We have decades of no movement on this issue," said John Snook, executive director of the Treatment Advocacy Center, a nonprofit trying to broaden access to mental health treatment. "This is the sort of opportunity we have to take advantage of.
"Every day there is a story about police having to shoot someone with serious mental illness or the glut of mentally ill people in the emergency room," Snook added. "I think the general public will say the federal government is finally recognizing a problem we've been seeing on the ground."
There's more in the article...