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Although 90% of American believe that the country is in a mental health crisis, treatment rates across all payors are low. Workforce challenges impact access to mental health care for almost half of US citizens. One hundred fifty-eight million people, or 47%, live in a mental health shortage area. Behavioral health issues are most prevalent in Medicaid enrollees, with Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) data from 2020 indicating that approximately 39% of Medicaid enrollees experience mental health or substance use disorders. Workforce shortages exist everywhere in mental health, but they are particularly acute in Medicaid populations. Medicaid telehealth is positioned to provide solutions. Before looking at Medicaid for telehealth, reviewing these data from a new KFF study may be helpful. 

  • Only 36% of psychiatrists accept new Medicaid patients, whereas overall, physicians accept Medicaid for other disorders at the rate of 71%
  • Providers who accept Medicaid appear only to serve a few patients or
  • Have lapses where they do not accept new Medicaid patients at all. 

This workforce shortage issue has drawn attention at the federal and state levels to address these issues for Medicaid enrollees. The December 2022 Consolidated Appropriations Act addressed workforce shortages in some areas that may help, including the following:

  • New psychiatry residency openings
  • Reduction of requirements for opioid use disorder (OUD) providers to prescribe medications
  • Improved Medicaid provider directories
  • New funds for peer support provider workforce initiatives.

To clarify the workforce issue, KFF surveyed state Medicaid officials about their strategies to address the behavioral health workforce shortages for FY 2022 and FY 2023. Below are some of the findings of KFF’s Behavioral Health Survey of state Medicaid programs. Forty-four states responded to the survey.

Overall, state strategies fall into these four key areas:

  1. Increasing reimbursement rates
  2. Reducing provider administrative burden
  3. Extending the…

From Telebehavioral Health Institute – Read More

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