National group scores states on mental health performance

By John Thomas, Associate Editor
July 1, 2003



The National Mental Health Association (NMHA) is reporting that states continue to underfund mental health services, and that the situation will probably get worse under growing budget deficits.

The NMHA survey found that in the past year, 29 states cut mental health funding and more than 35 anticipate cuts in 2004. In addition, the organization reported, and more than 25 states have instituted laws or regulations that limit access to needed medication.

Overall, the nation received a “D+” in moving toward parity for physical and mental health care coverage and a “C” in providing managed care protections that hold managed care companies liable for both physical and mental injuries.

“The progress we have made to improve our understanding of mental health would give our scientists and researchers an ‘A+’, but the nation is failing to translate this knowledge into practice,” NMHA President and CEO Michael Faenza said.

In Can’t Make the Grade: State Mental Health Assessment Project, the first detailed grading of key mental health services in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, the NMHA found:

Only 17 states demonstrated accountability for mental health spending and utilization under Medicaid, while the rest remain silent on where the money is going and how much is being spent.

Four states—Connecticut, Maryland, Minnesota and Vermont—received an “A” for providing parity between mental health and physical health services, while Idaho, Iowa, Michigan, North Dakota, Pennsylvania and Wyoming failed.

Ten states received an “A” for adopting adequate managed care protections while six states failed and three states have not passed even basic patient protection laws.

The accompanying chart shows how states are doing in the four areas surveyed by the NMHA.

More information on the NMHA study can be found at www.nmha.org.

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