Public Policy: Medicaid, Insurance, and Medication
Access to health insurance does not always guarantee that people with mental illness get access to care. Often, our members don’t get medically-necessary treatments and services and report adverse outcomes because of this. Texas should strengthen requirements for robust, comprehensive, and affordable mental health coverage in both the public and private insurance sectors. Additionally, Texas should pursue policy options that would reduce the uninsured rate.
NAMI Texas Medicaid, Insurance, and Medication Policy Priorities
Medicaid and CHIP
Medicaid – the single most important funding source for mental health services – should be appropriately financed to offer the full range of mental health services and supports. If Medicaid is appropriately financed and managed, it can provide incredible value to the state and improve the lives of Texans with mental illness. When caseload growth outpaces funding, overly restrictive cost containment or provider rate cuts are implemented, and those served by Medicaid are adversely affected. In recent times, serious issues around Medicaid have come to light, indicating the need for improvements. Texas should focus on ensuring strong provider networks, increasing utilization of care coordination, boosting reimbursement rates, improving complaint and resolution processes, and holding managed care organizations and providers accountable for providing high-quality care.
The coverage gap
The federal government offers states Medicaid expansion funding to create an insurance option for low-wage adults, but so far, Texas has rejected these funds. The consequences of that decision have been devastating for Texans with mental illness: Over 400,000 Texans with mental illness or substance use disorder could enroll in health insurance if state leaders accepted Medicaid expansion funding. Texans with health insurance are nearly 50 percent more likely to receive treatment for mental illness or a substance use disorder compared to Texans who lack insurance. Texas should accept federal funding to open up Medicaid eligibility to low-wage adults.
Mental health insurance coverage
While Texas passed a robust mental health parity law in 2017, that law only has an impact if health plans actually offer coverage for mental health care. Texas does not require plans in the individual or small group health insurance market to include mental health coverage.
- Texas should implement stronger insurance protections for mental health:
- required robust coverage for mental health care
- prohibition of coverage denial due to a mental health diagnosis
- short-term, limited-duration health plans should be addressed
Protections against people losing access to medications
Far too often, insurance companies drop or deny medications, without having any medical rationale for doing so. This practice of non-medical switching can have a devastating impact on outcomes for those whose health outcomes and stability depend upon ongoing access to the most effective medication, which may have taken them a long time to find. Because medication is often a critical component of recovery, continuity of care must be provided for Texans with mental illness. Texas should strengthen protections to ensure that people with mental illness have medication continuity of care in their insurance plans.
Safe and effective medications for Medicaid enrollees
Not getting the best, first-choice medication can put a person at increased risk of expensive emergency room visits, hospitalization, and other poor outcomes. All too often, prior authorization policies in Medicaid have caused delayed or unavailable access to the right medications for people with mental illness. Texas should provide stronger oversight of the Medicaid mental health medication pharmacy benefit.
Testimony on Medicaid, Insurance, and Medication