This week Congress passed S.599, the Improving Access to Emergency Psychiatric Care Act of 2015, which continues a demonstration that allows emergency psychiatric care for adult Medicaid beneficiaries. The legislation now requires President Obama’s signature.
Provisions allow 10 states and the District of Columbia to continue to provide adult Medicaid beneficiaries short-term acute care in psychiatric hospitals otherwise not permitted under the Institutions for Mental Disease (IMD) exclusion. Federal officials would also have the discretion to expand the demonstration nationwide.
"The three-year demonstration has proven that it can make a real difference in the lives of some of the most vulnerable Americans by giving adults with mental illnesses and substance use disorders access to the same hospital treatment that their Medicaid insurance card covers for other conditions,” said National Association of Psychiatric Health Systems President and CEO Mark Covall, in a statement.
Covall added comprehensive mental health reform must include a permanent fix to the IMD exclusion for short-term psychiatric hospital care.