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By Richard Asinof
WASHINGTON – Rhode Island’s congressional delegation announced on March 16 that the state would be eligible to receive new federal funding as part of a national pilot program to provide services to Medicaid-eligible adults experiencing psychiatric emergencies.
Under the new pilot program, institutions for mental disease and psychiatric would be eligible for reimbursement for treating Medicaid beneficiaries between the ages 21 to 64 for psychiatric emergencies, instead of just being able to seek services in general hospital emergency departments, where treatment may not be appropriately matched to the patients’ needs and is more costly, according to government officials.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will allocate $75 million over three years to 11 states, including Rhode Island, and the District of Columbia for the program.
For every dollar that Rhode Island spends on psychiatric care for Medicaid-eligible adults, the state will receive approximately 0.52 cents from the federal government.
The pilot program will also assess the effect of expanded Medicaid coverage for reducing the burden on general acute care hospital emergency departments.
“For too long, funding and coverage for mental illnesses has not been on par with support for physical illnesses,” said U.S. Rep. James R. Langevin. “This program gives Rhode Island a lead role in improving mental health treatment and is an example of the much-needed effort by the Affordable Care Act to ensure patients with mental illnesses receive the high quality care they deserve.”