KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Report Details Ga. Mental Health Improvements

A new report shows improvement in Georgia's mental health system, but problems persist. In the meantime in Colorado, new experiments try to combine mental and physical well-being to better care for patients.

Georgia Health News: Report Finds Improvements Under Justice Pact
Georgia has made considerable progress in improving services for people with mental illness and developmental disabilities, a new report says. The report by an independent reviewer, which was released last week, tracks the steps the state has taken since it agreed to revamp its services in an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice. … But, like Jones’ report a year ago, this review also cites some significant problems (Miller, 9/25).

Health Policy Solutions (a Colo. news service): Melding Mental, Physical Health A Struggle
The relationship is on the rocks. Long divided into opposing cultures, doctors, who focus on the body, are trying to work side-by-side with behavioral health experts who try to heal patients' minds. In a grand Colorado experiment called Advancing Care Together, 11 pilot sites are participating in a $4 million four-year experiment to bring these disparate worlds together. And some are pining for a divorce. Or at least they want a proper wedding that includes electronic medical records that actually talk to each other (Kerwin McCrimmon, 9/25).

Health Policy Solutions (a Colo. news service): Insurance Company Bets On Benefits Of Integration
Doctors can't bill insurance companies for treating their patients' mental health woes and psychologists can't treat physical ailments. So the two health specialties remain separate, while confused patients get splintered care and often get sicker. Most experts acknowledge that the system is ridiculous, but feel shackled to insurance company billing codes. Enter an insurance company that wants to prove once and for all that integrated physical and behavioral health care is both better for patients and less expensive in the long run. In a new experiment set to start next spring in western Colorado, the nonprofit health insurance company, Rocky Mountain Health Plans, will give hefty "umbrella payments" to three primary care practices that are already working to integrate behavioral health (Kerwin McCrimmon, 9/25).

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