States can improve outcomes for Medicaid beneficiaries by integrating physical healthcare benefits with mental health and substance use disorder (MH/SUD) services through comprehensive managed care organizations (MCOs). An IBM Watson Health study found that beneficiaries experienced increases in outpatient visits and improvements in medication management following integration.
Medicaid is one of the largest funding sources for MH/SUD treatment in the United States. While states take different approaches to provide these benefits, Medicaid programs are increasingly integrating MH/SUD services and physical healthcare benefits through MCOs rather than “carving out” MH/SUD services to a separate managed behavioral health organization (MBHO).
Although extensive research demonstrates the advantages of integrating physical healthcare benefits with MH/SUD services and supports generally, little research exists quantifying the impact of a carve-in (MCO) model versus a carve-out (MBHO) model. IBM Watson Health analyzed data from multiple states to assess the impact of integration over a two-year period following the move from a carve-out model to a fully carved-in model.
- Integrating MH/SUD in Medicaid managed care
- Changes in service utilization
- Improvements in quality