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Viewpoint
December 1, 2015

Medicare, Medicaid, and Mental Health CareHistorical Perspectives on Reforms Before the US Congress

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, University of California, Los Angeles
  • 2Division of Geriatric Psychiatry, Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, University of California, Los Angeles
JAMA. 2015;314(21):2231-2232. doi:10.1001/jama.2015.13328

In 2015, after 50 years of Medicare and Medicaid, mental health reform bills in both houses of Congress (House HR 2646, the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act; Senate S 1945, the Mental Health Reform Act of 2015) may help to reduce mental health coverage gaps in these programs. When established, Medicare and Medicaid provided new mental health benefits and new processes for delivery of care.1 However, these programs also created significant coverage gaps in both inpatient and outpatient care. For many of these mental health coverage gaps, the proposed legislation marks a meaningful attempt at closure. This Viewpoint considers the historical effect of Medicare and Medicaid on mental health services and discusses this history as a basis for appraising the legislation now before Congress.

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