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Community health centers integrate mental and medical services to address care gap
Date:11/4/2013

WASHINGTON, DC (November 4, 2013)In recent years, there has been growing recognition that mental health status impacts physical health and vice versa. As a result, there is growing interest in the coordination of medical and behavioral health services as part of patient-centered primary health care. A new analysis by a team led by researchers at the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services (SPHHS) examines factors affecting the integration of mental health and substance abuse treatment services with medical care at community health centers.

"Community health centers have been leading the way in promoting the coordination of medical and behavioral health care, with a more integrated vision for primary health care," said Leighton Ku, PhD, MPH, a professor of health policy and director of the Center for Health Policy Research at SPHHS.

The report found that most community health centers provided mental health services, although substance abuse and alcohol treatment services, psychiatric care and 24-hour crisis counseling services were available less widely. Health centers were more likely to offer behavioral health services if they were larger or located in areas with more psychiatrists and psychologists per capita.

In addition, a policy that was found to impact the availability of behavioral health treatment services in health centers was whether state Medicaid programs the major source of insurance revenue for health centers pay separately for behavioral services when they are rendered on the same day that medical care is provided, a policy known as same-day billing. In many states, only one payment is permitted even if both medical and behavioral services are provided. Health centers that were located in states that do not allow same-day billing were less likely to offer onsite substance abuse services or 24 hour crisis counseling.

"Permitting payments for both behavioral and medica
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Contact: Kathy Fackelmann
kfackelmann@gwu.edu
202-994-8354
George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services
Source:Eurekalert

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