How Much Does Massachusetts Spend on Primary Behavioral Health Care?  -Commonwealth Magazine

How Much Does Massachusetts Spend on Primary Behavioral Health Care? -Commonwealth Magazine

ONE OF GOV. Charlie Baker’s biggest initiatives that he attempted, but failed to adopt, would have reoriented health care spending, so that more health care spending went to primary health care and behavioural, rather than specialist care.

Legislation sponsored by Baker would have required health care providers and payers to increase spending on primary and behavioral health care by 30% over three years from 2019 levels, while remaining under a care benchmark which sets targets for total health care expenditure.

The legislature did not take up Baker’s bill and the governor is not running for re-election, so his proposal is likely dead. But a report from the state’s Center for Health Information and Analysis, released Tuesday, gives hard numbers on Massachusetts’ exact spending on primary and behavioral health care — key numbers if proposals similar to Baker’s emerge in the future. ‘coming. The report will also be important as the legislature oversees the implementation of a new law to improve access to mental health care, which mandates CHIA to monitor state spending on mental health services.

“When CHIA began this data collection, comprehensive information was limited on the level of investment in primary care and behavioral health services across the Commonwealth and this report significantly expands our understanding of spending in these important areas,” said said Ray Campbell, executive director of CHIA. “The ability to measure both primary care and behavioral health expenditure sets Massachusetts apart nationally and creates an evidence base to support public policy discourse.”

In raw numbers, primary care spending totaled $2.1 billion in 2019, falling to $1.9 billion in 2020. The drop was due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, which led to cancellations massive numbers of routine and non-emergency health care visits. the state entered lockdown in March 2020. Data shows a sharp decline in office visits, especially preventive care, between 2019 and 2020.

Spending on behavioral health care was $2.1 billion in 2019, but increased to $2.2 billion in 2020. This increase represents a significant increase in mental health care over the course of a year where spending on behavioral health jumped 9.1%, even as spending on all other services fell. by 4.2%.

The report attributes the higher spending on behavioral health care to an increased need, due to the effects of the pandemic, and increased use of telehealth for mental health care. It has proven to be much easier to extend the use of telehealth to mental health care than to physical health care. Spending on outpatient behavioral health care jumped 17.1% for commercially insured patients between 2019 and 2020. For low-income Medicaid patients, the biggest increase was in inpatient care, which rose by 18.3% between 2019 and 2020.

In 2020, the report reveals that primary and behavioral health care combined accounted for 16.2% of total health expenditure.

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Journalist, Commonwealth

About Shira Schoenberg

Shira Schoenberg is a reporter for CommonWealth magazine. Shira previously worked for over seven years at Springfield Republican/MassLive.com where she covered state politics and elections, covering topics as diverse as the launch of the legal marijuana industry, issues with the state’s foster care system and the elections for US senators. Elizabeth Warren and Governor Charlie Baker. Shira won the Massachusetts Bar Association’s Excellence in Legal Journalism Award in 2018 and several articles have won awards from the New England Newspaper and Press Association. Shira covered New Hampshire’s 2012 presidential primary for The Boston Globe. Prior to that, she worked for the Concord (NH) Monitor, where she wrote about state government, city hall, and Barack Obama’s 2008 primary campaign in New Hampshire. Shira holds a master’s degree from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism.

About Shira Schoenberg

Shira Schoenberg is a reporter for CommonWealth magazine. Shira previously worked for over seven years at Springfield Republican/MassLive.com where she covered state politics and elections, covering topics as diverse as the launch of the legal marijuana industry, issues with the state’s foster care system and the elections for US senators. Elizabeth Warren and Governor Charlie Baker. Shira won the Massachusetts Bar Association’s Excellence in Legal Journalism Award in 2018 and several articles have won awards from the New England Newspaper and Press Association. Shira covered New Hampshire’s 2012 presidential primary for The Boston Globe. Prior to that, she worked for the Concord (NH) Monitor, where she wrote about state government, city hall, and Barack Obama’s 2008 primary campaign in New Hampshire. Shira holds a master’s degree from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism.

The report also breaks down spending by insurance type and found that Medicaid spent a much higher percentage of its spending on behavioral health care, compared to commercial insurance or Medicare. This likely reflects the baseline difference between populations – with Medicaid reporting more patients with behavioral health diagnoses – and generous Medicaid coverage, under which more mental health services are covered without significant copays compared to the trade assurance.

Asked why publishing the report now, when Baker first made his proposal in 2019, Erin Bonney, director of health informatics and reporting at CHIA, said the agency started to collect data in the fall of 2019, but the organization wanted to complete two years of data. collect and check the quality of data before publishing it, to ensure that the information was accurate.

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