Medicaid Expansion & Mental Health

Mar 3, 2014

Credit Kaiser Health News

As the effort continues to press the Virginia House of Delegates to jump on board with Medicaid expansion, mental health advocates are warning of what could happen if those who are uninsured remain so. 

One coalition says that while both chambers have made addressing mental health a priority this session, those who suffer from illnesses will still face many challenges if they do not have the means to pay for critical services.

The National Alliance on Mental Health’s Virginia chapter and other leading mental health organizations applaud House and Senate initiatives to fund services, but they say that money only goes so far.

They add that patients need assurance of ongoing access to treatment—but don’t have it if they’re uninsured.  They also say that at any given time, one million Virginians suffer from mental illness. Seventy-seven thousand are uninsured adults—and nearly half have a serious illness.  Margaret Nimmo Crowe, with Voices for Virginia's Children, says those figures don't always include new cases where children are also diagnosed with mental illness.
The House budget provides $48-million for mental health services but the group says the Senate budget, which creates Marketplace Virginia, would provide more extensive care to thousands of Virginians.