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THE MUSINGS OF A TRADITIONAL SOUTHERN DEMOCRAT

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Location: Douglas, Coffee Co., The Other Georgia, United States

Sid in his law office where he sits when meeting with clients. Observant eyes will notice the statuette of one of Sid's favorite Democrats.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Expansion of Mental Health Care Hits Obstacles - 85 percent of the 521,000 Kentuckians who got coverage through the state’s new insurance exchange this year were poor enough to enroll in Medicaid

From The New York Times:

The Affordable Care Act has paved the way for a vast expansion of mental health coverage in America, providing access for millions of people who were previously uninsured or whose policies did not include such coverage before. Under the law, mental health treatment is an “essential” benefit that must be covered by Medicaid and every private plan sold through the new online insurance marketplaces.

The need is widely viewed as great: Nearly one in five Americans has a diagnosable mental illness, according to the Department of Health and Human Services, but most get no treatment. If the law’s goal is met, advocates say, it will reduce not only personal suffering but also exorbitant economic costs, like the higher rate of general health problems among those with mental illnesses, and their lost productivity.
 
Kentucky has been trying to overhaul its mental health system, partly by allowing private psychologists and social workers to accept Medicaid patients for the first time. The change is crucial, state officials say, because 85 percent of the 521,000 Kentuckians who got coverage through the state’s new insurance exchange this year were poor enough to enroll in Medicaid. Previously, only psychologists and social workers at community health centers like Seven Counties, which are quasi-governmental agencies, could provide outpatient therapy to Medicaid recipients here. Now, more than 1,000 private mental health providers statewide have signed up to treat Medicaid enrollees, according to the state.

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