REPORT PROVIDES OPTIONS FOR MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES FOR UNINSURED TENNESSEANS
NASHVILLE—The Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (TDMHSAS) released its report to the General Assembly regarding options for provision of mental health services for Tennessee’s uninsured. The study is in response to PC 812, a legislative request requiring TDMHSAS, in conjunction with community mental health providers, service recipients, family members, and other appropriate state and local agencies, to recommend options for access to non-emergency behavioral health services for uninsured Tennesseans. Proponents of the bill hope to achieve a system of easy, early, and affordable access to behavioral health services for persons with mental health issues.
“With 1 out of 4 persons having a diagnosable mental disorder in their lifetime, it is important to decrease barriers to mental health services,” stated TDMHSAS Commissioner Virginia Trotter Betts. “As the state continues to look at ways to provide services and coverage to the uninsured, it was important that the General Assembly called for this report as mental health is fundamental and essential to overall health and personal well-being.”
The report sets out several viable options that would increase access to non-emergency behavioral health services in Tennessee’s communities. Some examples include fee for service programs, “grants”, improved mental health screenings, and partnerships between local mental health agencies and public health departments. TDMHSAS called for the promotion of Cover Tennessee products, the Governor’s new health insurance programs for the uninsured, all of which include a mental health benefit. Along with options, TDMHSAS and community stakeholders developed a common set of standards surrounding these options including availability of sliding scale fees, local access and funding, timely and easy access to services, and flexibility.
The report considers several service benefit packages and provides an estimate of the costs associated with providing these services. As a part of the study and analysis, TDMHSAS considered pertinent historical events, acquired an actuarial analysis to determine costs, and gathered broad stakeholder input.
To view the report on Public Chapter 812 or additional mental health information, please visit www.tn.gov/mental.