Making Mental Health Services Accessible
A recent report proposes strategies to overcome barriers associated with the reimbursement of mental health services provided in primary care settings.
Jointly funded by SAMHSA and the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), with the technical expertise of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the report is titled, Reimbursement of Mental Health Services in Primary Care Settings.
“Improving access to timely and targeted mental health services in primary care settings can improve patient health and compliance with treatment,” said A. Kathryn Power, M.Ed., Director of SAMHSA’s Center for Mental Health Services.
Stakeholders in this improvement process include primary care providers, state Medicaid officials, and others billing for mental health services in the public sector. The goal is to work together to promote a greater understanding of mental health reimbursement policy.
“HRSA’s collaboration with SAMHSA and CMS on this issue is generating positive results,” said HRSA Administrator Elizabeth M. Duke, Ph.D. “Community health centers are a good example. Actions identified in this report can help improve reimbursements for these centers and other safety-net providers that deliver mental health services in primary care settings.”
Action steps and creative ideas came in from mental health service consumers, practitioners, providers, researchers, and Government officials. Collectively, they identified seven barriers to reimbursement of mental health services in primary care settings, and made suggestions for action.
Recommendations include the following:
- Increase leadership collaboration at the Federal and state levels among Government policymakers in Medicare, Medicaid, primary care, and mental health.
- Disseminate revised policies and procedures to patients, payers, practitioners, providers, and managers of care.
- Encourage flexibility in state Medicaid benefit designs to cover mental health services in primary care settings.
- Increase payment for professional services by nonphysician practitioners
under Medicare and Medicaid, particularly in underserved rural and urban areas.
- Activate policies at the state level for appropriate reimbursement of
- Provide reimbursement for mental health prevention and screening services.
The full report is available on SAMHSA’s Web site.
Additional information about billing for mental health services is available.