KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Conn. Wants Insurers To Pay More Of Children’s Mental Health Costs

Officials in Connecticut say insurers and families should pick up more bills for mental and developmental health services. In other news, California officials release details for new department of state hospitals and Colorado gets a new assessment of mental health services.

The Connecticut Mirror: DCF Wants Some To Pay For Their Child's Mental Health Benefits
Officials at the Department of Children and Families suspect the state is unjustifiably picking up the tab to provide mental and developmental health services for hundreds of children that should be covered by their health insurance or their higher-income parents. Currently, DCF doesn't consider the income of a child's guardians or if the child seeking benefits has health insurance coverage for these needs. Commissioner Joette Katz is seeking to change that (Thomas, 12/7).

Los Angeles Times: California Releases Plan For Overhaul Of Mental Health Programs
California mental health officials on Wednesday detailed plans for a new Department of State Hospitals, a streamlined agency that they said would improve treatment and reduce patient violence at the troubled psychiatric facilities — as well as save money. The department, which will oversee the state's five mental hospitals and psychiatric programs at two of its prisons, is expected to replace the Department of Mental Health next year (Romney, 12/8).

Denver Post: Colorado's Mental-Health Care System Better But Far From Good
Colorado's notoriously underfunded and fragmented mental-health care system still has far to go, but it has improved substantially over the past decade, a year-long assessment found. "The Status of Behavioral Health Care in Colorado," released Wednesday morning, found that over the past decade, funding has grown, coordination of services has improved and there are more mental-health practitioners (Auge, 12/8).

Health Policy Solutions (A Colo. news service): Colorado Near The Bottom In Behavioral Health Funding
A sweeping new study released today, The Status of Behavioral Health Care in Colorado, has found that Colorado ranks 32nd nationally for publicly funded mental health care and spends just one-third of the national average on care for substance use disorders. (SUDs were previously known as substance abuse.) The toll on the mentally ill is stunning. On average, people in the U.S. with severe mental illness die at age 53 of largely preventable causes (Kerwin McCrimmon, 12/7).

Health Policy Solutions (A Colo. news service): Saving The Mentally Ill, Saving Taxpayers
Data from Colorado's Behavioral Health Transformation Council found that 140 people cost Colorado Medicaid programs $4.2 million in a year. These most challenging patients accessed care in multiple disparate systems from mental health and treatment programs to primary care, hospitals, corrections, juvenile justice, child welfare and special education programs. A lack of coordination among these systems means many clients get expensive, redundant care while failing to improve (12/7).

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