Mental Health and Substance Use Treatment Improved by Medicaid Managed Care Plans

June 27, 2023
Key issues in healthcare addressed by national health plan collaborative analysis

The ACAP Behavioral Health Learning Collaborative identified key strategies that were detailed in an analysis prepared by the Association for Community Affiliated Plans (ACAP). The Association is the national trade association, which represents 80 not-for-profit Safety Net Health Plans. Collectively, ACAP plans serve more than 25 million enrollees through Medicaid, Medicare, Marketplaces, and other public health coverage programs.

According to Margaret A. Murray, chief executive officer of ACAP, “Medicaid is the largest public payer for mental health services in the United States, and nearly 70 percent of enrollees are in a managed care plan. Safety Net Health Plans are responding to our nation's mental health crisis the best they can but need more support, including better data and funding, to ensure individuals and families receive the care they need.” 

She added, “Policymakers and healthcare stakeholders don’t need to reinvent the wheel to move the needle on mental health. They should focus on tapping into plans’ existing knowledge and equipping them with the tools they need to implement evidence-based solutions.” 

In its analysis, ACAP identified “engagement with health plan staff, enrollees, providers and communities as key to improving outcomes.” The collaborative, which comprises 12 managed care plans, offers “recommendations for plans to support these relationships, including strengthening internal data-sharing, improving communication across departments, and building relationships with social services organizations.” 

Integral to the analysis was the list of “significant barriers to adopting evidence-based practices,” by Collaborative participants, which included the current workforce shortage, time and resource constraints, and insufficient funding, among others. The analysis also highlighted case studies of the recommendations in action, including “stories of plans using data to predict patients’ need for follow-up services and providing employment and housing supports.”