Should PA ‘carve out’ behavioral health from physical health or shift to ‘whole person’ model?

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Dr. James Schuster is associate chief medical officer and senior vice president for medical and behavioral services at UPMC Health Plan. (Photo by Ryan Loew/PublicSource)

By Kimberly Palmiero and Ramesh Santanam 

For Public Source

Two legislators are promoting a proposal to change the way thousands of the state’s most vulnerable people get services for mental illness and addiction treatment across the Commonwealth.

At issue is how the state delivers health services to Medicaid recipients, and whether they should merge the program offering behavioral health services with a larger one that also offers physical healthcare services.

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Complementary bills in state House and Senate committees aim to eliminate Behavioral HealthChoices — a program led by the state but delivered at the county level in Pennsylvania.

“We have to have a common payment system to drive integration in the Commonwealth,” said state Rep. Seth Grove, a York Republican and sponsor of the House legislation. “You can’t treat two things separately. There has to be communication between mental health physician and primary care provider. It’s a medical whole model versus what we have today.”

To read the complete story  click here.

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