How are new federal policies affecting care for people with serious mental illnesses?

A number of new Federal laws and regulations may expand the number of patients with serious mental illness in treatment, and also may improve services for patients who are already in the system.  The Affordable Care Act and Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act expanded Medicaid in 34 states and created new health insurance marketplaces.  Because people with serious mental illnesses are commonly uninsured, these changes may be particularly important for these individuals.  These new insurance options may increase the number of patients who are able to seek care, and reduce the risk of bankruptcy or financial hardship for those who require ongoing intensive services.  More recently, the 21st Century Cures Act has created a new focus across Federal Agencies including the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration on care for patients with serious mental disorders.  This Act has created new funding and technical assistance opportunities.  Together, these changes create new opportunities for psychiatrists and other clinicians to care for populations with serious mental illnesses.

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McCance-Katz, E. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA): New Directions. (2018). Psychiatr Serv, 69(10), 1046-1048. doi: 10.1176/ Epub 2018 Aug 13.

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