Seizing Opportunities Under the Affordable Care Act for Transforming the Mental and Behavioral Health System

The Affordable Care Act, along with Medicaid expansions, offers the opportunity to redesign the nation’s highly flawed mental health system. It promotes new programs and tools, such as health homes, interdisciplinary care teams, the broadening of the Medicaid Home and Community-Based Services option, co-location of physical health and behavioral services, and collaborative care. Provisions of the act offer extraordinary opportunities, for instance, to insure many more people, reimburse previously unreimbursed services, integrate care using new information technology tools and treatment teams, confront complex chronic comorbidities, and adopt underused evidence-based interventions.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and its Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation should work intensively with the states to implement these new programs and other arrangements, and begin to fulfill the many unmet promises of community mental health care.