Passport aims to improve behavioral health among Kentucky’s Medicaid population

Passport logoApproximately 147,000 adults in Kentucky live with severe mental illness, many of whom are Medicaid beneficiaries. That’s why Passport is taking steps to ensure that some of the state’s most vulnerable residents have access to behavioral health services while reducing the financial cost for taxpayers.

“Behavioral health – which includes mental health and substance use disorders – is just as important as physical health,” said Elizabeth W. McKune, Ed.D., Passport’s Director of Behavioral Health. “Poor behavioral health is often the result of poor physical health, and vice versa. Medicaid patients across Kentucky must have access to quality behavioral health care in order to improve overall health outcomes and control health care costs.”

Passport’s statewide provider network includes more than 2,100 behavioral health specialists (as of June 13, 2016) who are committed to delivering timely, high-quality, clinically appropriate behavioral health services to Medicaid patients. Behavioral health providers have access to online and in-person resources and training seminars to help improve the delivery of care.

Passport also offers a behavioral health hotline, available 24 hours a day and 7 days a week, to assist members in crisis and emergency situations, help them find local behavioral health providers, and get them connected to additional services or resources they may need. Other behavioral health services available for Passport’s members include medication management, substance use disorder treatment, outpatient services such as counseling, and even inpatient treatment when providers and patients feel that outpatient treatment is insufficient.

“From providers and insurers to patients and nonprofits, many in the Commonwealth have a vested interest in improving health, including behavioral health,” said Dr. McKune. “This is a statewide effort that requires all hands on deck.”

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About 3 Million Uninsured Adults Have a Behavioral Health Condition, New Government Report Says

HiResAccording to a new report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), about 3 million low-income, uninsured adults have a behavioral health condition, including serious mental illness, a substance use condition or both.

That number was divided evenly between states that did and did not expand their Medicaid programs.

The auditors said that the non-expansion states it studied offer treatment services for low-income uninsured people – though the programs prioritize care for people with the most serious illnesses. State officials in the Medicaid expansion states that GAO analyzed said they experienced an increase in availability of behavioral health treatment, though “some access concerns remain.”

The full report is available online here.