How proposed bills would help Medicare, Medicaid close mental healthcare gap

Bills currently being considered in both the House and Senate mark a "meaningful attempt" at reducing mental health coverage gaps in Medicare and Medicaid, according to a new perspective piece published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. This new legislation, write Thomas R. Blair, M.D., and Randall T. Espinoza, M.D., is even more significant, considering the effect that Medicare and Medicaid have had on mental healthcare throughout the programs' 50-year history.

Among other proposed changes, the new bills would remove a 190-day lifetime cap on Medicare-reimbursed psychiatric hospital stays, and give states far less discretion to exclude psychiatric medications from Medicaid formularies, the authors write. Article (subscription may be required)