This week marked a milestone for our efforts to reduce the preventable tragedies caused by the lack of inpatient treatment and encourage #aBedInstead.
The United States now has fewer state psychiatric treatment beds per capita than any other time in our nation’s history. Without necessary beds, those in need of care experience delayed treatment, unnecessary crises, rampant criminalization and countless preventable tragedies. In 2016, the Treatment Advocacy Center launched our #aBedInstead campaign to bring light to this crisis and demand change.
On Tuesday, Secretary Azar of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services announced important regulatory changes that will allow states to receive Medicaid reimbursements for mental health treatment in inpatient settings known as IMDs, or institutions of mental disease.
Since the 1960s, Medicaid IMD law has prohibited such payments for adult inpatient treatment, undermining existing medical facilities and exacerbating a national bed shortage crisis – effectively denying medically necessary care. This longstanding policy has disproportionately discriminated against adults with serious mental illness, many of whom are Medicaid beneficiaries, and many of whom have suffered terrible outcomes resulting from an inability to receive timely, necessary treatment.
Both this presidential administration and the one before it have granted state waivers to permit inpatient treatment for people with substance use disorders, but people with severe mental illness were consistently left out, discriminated against simply because they were adults with a mental illness. That is why our executive director, John Snook, who serves on the Interdepartmental Serious Mental Illness Coordinating Committee, joined his colleagues in urging the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to address this disparity while strengthening quality and continuity of care to community services. Their call was both heard and heeded.
– Treatment Advocacy Center