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February 5, 1997

Quality Standards Intend to Bring Psychiatry, Primary Care Into Closer Collaboration

JAMA. 1997;277(5):366. doi:10.1001/jama.1997.03540290018007

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NEW STANDARDS from the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) may join together what managed care and medical traditions seemingly have kept asunder: psychiatry and primary care.

Late last month the Washington, DCbased NCQA released the final version of the first national accreditation standards for managed behavioral health care organizations. The new standards were spurred by the explosive growth during the 1980s of specialized managed care companies that contracted with health plans to provide mental and behavioral health care services.

The NCQA estimates that more than 300 such organizations currently are serving about 100 million people in the United States. The market for managed behavioral health care is expected to grow as state governments increasingly cover Medicaid recipients' behavioral health care through managed care plans.

"Purchasers and consumers have expressed concern about the absence of quality information related to managed behavioral health care," said Margaret E. O'Kane, MHS, NCQA's president.

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