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Behavioral Health in the Medicaid Program―People, Use, and Expenditures

Medicaid is the single largest payer in the United States for behavioral health services, including mental health and substance use services. Overall, Medicaid accounted for 26 percent of all behavioral health spending in 2009. The people receiving these services range from young children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder to homeless adults with serious mental illness. Their treatment needs are different—extending from medication or therapy to long-term services and supports. They also vary considerably with regard to other treatment needs―from people who can be treated capably by primary care physicians to others who may require specialized care.

Chapter 4 provides a starting point for future Commission work to examine how Medicaid pays for and delivers behavioral health services. This descriptive analysis is the first step in what the Commission expects will be an extended inquiry into developing effective and efficient policies to meet the behavioral and physical health care needs of this diverse group of beneficiaries.

From: June 2015 Report to Congress on Medicaid and CHIP