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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: December 9, 2020 09:16 AM
From: Senator Kristin Phillips-Hill
To: All Senate members
Subject: Behavioral Health Integration
In the near future, I plan to reintroduce Senate Bill 268 that will integrate behavioral health and physical health services in Pennsylvania’s Medicaid program.

As some background, HealthChoices is the name of Pennsylvania's managed care programs for Medicaid recipients. Known as the carve-out, mental health and drug and alcohol services provided via the HealthChoices program differs from the physical health component of the HealthChoices program. Unfortunately, because of this carve-out, access to quality, comprehensive care becomes an issue for those who need multiple types of services.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 68% of adults with mental illness also have one or more chronic physical conditions. These chronic physical illnesses are exacerbated by mental health and/or substance abuse disorders.  People with both serious mental and physical illness need integrated care, as they die on average 25 years earlier than those affected with chronic physical illness only. Furthermore, tackling the opioid crisis necessitates coordinating a member’s physical health, mental health, medication, and substance use services.

Last year, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) sent out a letter to state Medicaid Directors to announce opportunities to design innovative service delivery systems for adults with serious mental illness. CMS specifically stated integration is critical for improving access to treatment for physical health conditions and substance use disorders that are common among individuals with serious mental illness.

Therefore, I am introducing legislation to coordinate mental health, substance abuse and primary care services in an effort to produce the best outcomes and best care for people with complex health needs. In other states, behavioral health integration has proven to reduce administrative costs. It provides easier integration of a single treatment plan, easier data collection, and monitoring of outcomes tying together the entire cost of care and better quality of care.

Please join me in co-sponsoring this important legislation that will improve health outcomes and lower costs in the system.

Introduced as SB40