KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Some Warn Of ‘Overwhelming’ Mental Illness Care Cost Without New Research Investment

Scientists warn health systems could face "overwhelming" costs of treating mental illness if no new money is invested in research.

Reuters: Scientists Warn Of Overwhelming Costs Of Mental Illness
Health systems could be "overwhelmed" by the costs of coping with mental illnesses such as dementia, depression and addiction if nothing is done now to boost investment in research, leading neuroscientists said on Thursday (Kelland, 7/24).

News outlets look at treatment, and new models, for mental health patients -

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Schizophrenia, Suicide And One Family's Anguish
Homer Bell was 54 years old when he committed suicide in April in a very public way -- he laid down in front of a bus in his hometown of Hartford, Conn. It was the culmination of three decades of suffering endured by Bell and his family because of his illness, schizophrenia (Cohen, 7/24).

The New York Times: Mental Health Cuts In Utah Leave Patients Adrift
Still, the changes have shaken providers and recipients of mental health care in Utah while testing the resilience of its safety net as hundreds of Medicaid patients try to find new psychiatrists and counselors and wonder who will fill their next prescription. Some patients said they felt whipsawed by the shift, and were reluctant to part with counselors or support groups they had known for a decade or more (Healy, 7/24).

The Medicare NewsGroup: Treatment Of Seriously Mentally Ill Beneficiaries On Trend With Integrated Care
Historically, treating these individuals has been a process fraught with frustrations for patients and providers alike, as patients often don’t take medications on schedule, miss appointments and are not attentive to their physical health. That has created an increasing number of seriously mentally ill people with co-occurring chronic medical conditions including diabetes, hypertension and emphysema. One such effort to improve treatment and curb spending on this high-cost, high-use population is the coordinated care model, in which a single provider acts as the main point of engagement for the patient (Pasternak, 7/24).

In the meantime, a former congressman says the Obama administration will soon issue final rules to implement the 2008 Mental Health Parity Act -

Medpage Today: Mental Health Parity Rules Coming Soon
The Obama administration will release in a few months final rules implementing the 2008 mental health parity law, a former congressman said Wednesday. The law -- the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act -- states that health plans must cover the treatment of mental illness or drug or alcohol abuse at the same level as they cover other health care treatment. But full scale-up of the law has been delayed because rules haven't been issued outlining treatment limits for some nonquantitative services -- rules that would define exactly how mental health services are comparable to physical medical care (Pittman, 7/24).

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