A coalition of eight leading medical associations is calling for the integration of behavioral health into primary care practice, plus the expansion of mental health and substance abuse disorder services to fill the unmet needs for these kinds of treatments.
Behavioral health integration (BHI) could save as much as $68 billion per year in healthcare costs across all payers, the group wrote in Health Affairs. But underpayments for behavioral health treatment are contributing to the crisis in mental healthcare access, they wrote.
The BHI Collaborative — which includes the American Medical Association (AMA) and several primary care societies — is urging payers and policymakers to take several actions it said would enable primary care practices to assume this additional burden. In particular, the authors wrote, the practices need expanded coverage and fair payment for behavioral health integration (BHI). Another key requirement is training and technical support for the physicians who would be responsible for this transformation of primary care.
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