Fixing America’s Mental Healthcare System

Seth Seabury joined The Hill​ for a discussion on America’s mental healthcare system on February 26 in Washington, D.C.  The event featured industry and policy leaders in a discussion on the economic and societal toll of cost-cutting policies that limit access to treatment for mentally ill patients.

Seabury discussed research on the consequences of limiting reimbursements for Major Depressive Disorder antidepressant treatments. According to the study, formulary restrictions that are an effort to cut Medicaid costs are leading to more hospitalizations, worse outcomes and no numerical evidence of net savings for Medicaid . (See the issue brief here.)

The event opened with Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA-18) discussing their forthcoming Senate and House bills (respectively). Both Members of Congress emphasized the importance of fixing America’s mental healthcare system, and how new policies need to instigate a holistic, integrated approach to overcome the natural fragmentation of mental health care services.

Allen Doederlein from the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance asserted that by helping individuals navigate the system, the evidence-based practice of peer support services empowers individuals as captains of their own self-recovery. Matt Salo from National Association of Medicaid Directors emphasized the need to maintain meaningful delivery systems and encourage Medicaid reforms, such as eliminating Institutions for Mental Disease (IMD) exclusion. Dr. Azfar Malik, CEO and Chief Medical Officer of CenterPointe Hospital (St. Louis, MO), expressed the need to increase the number of mental health professionals and facilitate conversations between patients and their physicians. Dr. Ron Manderscheid of the National Association of County Behavioral Health & Developmental Disability Directors echoed these sentiments, highlighting the necessity of insurance parity, good care access and a prevention-to-recovery system that works.

SETH SEABURY, Ph.D., University of Southern California Schaeffer Center for Health Policy & Economics
ALLEN DOEDERLEIN, President, Depression & Bipolar Support Alliance
AZFAR MALIK, M.D., CEO & Chief Medical Officer, CenterPointe Hospital (St. Louis, MO)
RON MANDERSCHEID, Ph.D., Executive Director, National Association of County Behavioral Health & Developmental Disability Directors
MATT SALO, Executive Director, National Association of Medicaid Directors