Our nation’s aging prison population is bringing to the forefront issues of geriatric mental health among inmates. There are no federal guidelines for treating older, frail inmates who may suffer from chronic mental health problems such as depression or anxiety. Continue reading
Hillary Clinton this week unveiled a comprehensive plan to reform how mental health care is delivered in this country. While it calls for addressing many of the most serious problems in the behavioral health care system, it could be hampered – at least initially – by a severe shortage of mental health professionals at all levels (map as of 2014).
To address that problem, the plan calls for increasing reimbursement for collaborative care (where mental health professionals work with medical providers) in Medicare and Medicaid Continue reading
Telehealth services are gaining ground as a means to expand reach and keep health costs down.
But what about telemental health? On one hand, it could be a boon for older adults who may be isolated or otherwise unable to visit a mental health practitioner in person. However, as the American Telehealth Association notes, “the service must be provided to an eligible Medicare beneficiary in an eligible facility (originating site) located outside of a Metropolitan Statistical Area” or in a health professional shortage area (HPSA).” Continue reading
Tennessee is among the 19 states that have not taken up Medicaid expansion under the ACA. This summer a Tennessee legislative task force put forth a proposal for a partial expansion program, with the first stage focusing in large part on people with mental illness or substance abuse disorders. If approved – which isn’t certain – it could later be expanded, but only if it meets cost and quality objectives. As Fletcher reported, that’s not so easy. Gov. Bill Haslam, a Republican, last year tried to enact a market-based version, only to be blocked by a more conservative legislature, as one commentator noted in the newspaper. Continue reading
Congress recently passed a bill to combat opioid abuse (although it’s still fighting over funding it), and there’s a good chance lawmakers also will pass legislation updating a lot of the federal mental health programs in the fall – although lack of bipartisanship has reduced the scope of what could pass.