When we spoke earlier this year with Rhonda Robinson Beale, chief medical officer for OptumHealth Behavioral Solutions, she predicted that a consolidated managed care industry will be pushing harder for medical integration with mental health.
She said there will be an emphasis on “medical homes” that are essentially group practices that include physicians as well as behavioral health care providers. OptumHealth is already contracting with some of these types of providers in California. It’s the proverbial one-stop shop.
More confirmation of this trend comes this week from Andrew Sekel, CEO of the company. “We will see significant consolidation driven by the notion that integrated systems are more efficient than large numbers of people trying to coordinate private practices,” Sekel said at the State Leadership Conference of the American Psychological Association.
Sekel and other presenters were discussing what behavioral health care will look like in 2021.
The May issue of the APA’s Monitor on Psychology reported that Sekel believes the shift is already taking place, and that it will have a “huge influence” on the behavioral health industry.
“The consistent message is that behavioral health care can’t stand apart,” he said. “It needs to be integrated into the delivery system.”
It’s only May, but it seems that this year’s push for psychologist prescription privileges has already run its course. Bills have been killed in Montana, Hawaii, Arizona and Utah, according to the May 6 issue of Psychiatric News.
A bill in Tennessee is technically still alive, but only because the state carries over legislation from one session to another.
This puts the focus on just two states — Oregon and New Jersey. The Oregon legislature passed prescription legislation last year but it was vetoed by Governor Ted Kulongoski. Now it’s been reintroduced and a house bill was passed by the Health Committee on April 14. It now moves to the Ways and Means Committee.
This is the first year for consideration of the issue in New Jersey, but the bill remains in the Regulated Professions Committee.
- John Nelander, Contributing Editor