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Senate GOP Bill Aims To Add Psych Beds; Squeeze On Medicaid Signals Their Undoing

By Kaiser Health News  
   July 10, 2017

The Senate bill would allow states to receive federal matching Medicaid funds for up to 30 consecutive days of inpatient psychiatric hospital care, or 90 days in a year.

This article first appeared June 08, 2017 on Kaiser Health News.

By Liz Szabo

A little-discussed provision in the Senate health care bill is designed to boost the number of hospital beds for psychiatric care, providing a long-sought victory for mental health advocates.

The provision would amend an obscure Medicaid funding rule that has sharply limited the number of beds for those with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or other mental illnesses.

Yet leading mental health groups say they see no reason to celebrate.

That’s because the Senate bill would also wring out $772 billion from Medicaid — the joint state-federal insurance program that is the single-largest provider of care for people with serious mental illness. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has said that the Senate bill, drafted by Republicans as a replacement for the Affordable Care Act, would reduce overall Medicaid spending by 26 percent by 2026 and by 35 percent the following decade.

The loss of those funds would devastate health care services for people with mental illness, who are some of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged people in the country, said Bethany Lilly, deputy director of policy and legal advocacy at the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, an advocacy group.

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Kaiser Health News is a national health policy news service that is part of the nonpartisan Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.


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