Medicaid is an important funding source for mental health services, and changes to this state/federal program can have drastic implications for behavioral health provider organizations and the consumers they serve. Despite Medicaid's multiple and well-documented problems, some see it as the logical starting place for a national health insurance program. To gain some insight on Medicaid's role in behavioral healthcare today and what could be done to address some of its challenges, Behavioral Healthcare turned to Ronald W. Manderscheid, PhD.
Dr. Manderscheid retired in 2005 from an impressive 30-year career in the federal government, having worked at the National Institute of Mental Health and as the long-time chief of the Survey and Analysis Branch in the Center for Mental Health Services, part of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). During the national healthcare reform debate in the 1990s, he served as a policy advisor in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health in the Department of Health and Human Services. Dr. Manderscheid is a past chair of the Mental Health Section of the American Public Health Association and former president of the Washington Academy of Sciences.
Dr. Manderscheid hasn't slowed down since his retirement from public service. He still advises members of Congress (see sidebar, page 20) and recently was appointed as an adjunct professor in the Department of Mental Health at Johns Hopkins University's Bloomberg School of Public Health. He also directs the mental health and substance use programs at the consulting and research firm Constella Group, LLC. In addition, he is a member of Behavioral Healthcare's Editorial Board and a frequent contributor to the magazine.
Behavioral Healthcare Washington Editor Michael J. Stoil, PhD, conducted the following interview.
You've been a very astute and well-placed observer of the changes in behavioral healthcare during the past 30 years. One set of those changes relates to the role of Medicaid. In your view, what is Medicaid's role today, and what does it mean for its future relationship with behavioral healthcare?
Dr. Manderscheid: Let me begin by giving some background. In my last 10 years at SAMHSA, I conducted a project on Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance. That project resulted in about 60 papers and publications on a range of topics, including a series of chapters in Mental Health, United States. I was researching the patterns of service use and expenditures in each of those areas. I recently cited these data in testimony before the House Ways and Means subcommittee exploring Medicare reform, including Medicare's 50% copay for outpatient mental health services [see sidebar]. I am very interested in moving Medicare's and Medicaid's agendas toward better accessibility, quality of care, and outcomes …