Individuals with poor mental health often rely on primary care providers for their mental health treatment. When primary care providers attempt to refer these individuals on to a behavioral health professional, a variety of barriers can undermine their efforts, including stigma, long waiting lists, and – sometimes – a mismatch between the patients’ expectations and the services available. While the integration of primary and behavioral health services would seem the obvious solution, there are many roadblocks that prevent effective collaboration.
Policy changes and a cultural paradigm shift that embraces integrated care are needed to begin to provide quality, coordinated care for co-occurring mental and physical health issues. In this Altarum Policy Roundtable, we will begin to address some of these policy issues that must be resolved in order to effectively integrate primary and behavioral health care. Because community health centers (CHC) are currently at the forefront of the effort to integrate behavioral and primary health care, a number of CHCs who have been pioneers in the integration effort will serve as our model for exploring the many challenges – and solutions – to implementing this model of care and how to finance these efforts at the local, state, and national level.
Dennis Freeman, CEO, Cherokee Health Systems
Alexander Blount, Director, University of Massachusetts Medical School Primary Care Behavioral Health
Peggy Clark, Technical Director for Managed Care, Division of Community and Institutional Services, Disabled and Elderly Health Programs Group, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
Nancy Kirchner, Health Insurance Specialist, Disabled and Elderly Health Programs Group, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
Mary Rainwater, Project Director, California Integrated Behavioral Health Project
Scott Green, (Roundtable Moderator), Lead for Behavioral Health, Altarum Institute