Health Care
3:22 pm
Wed July 16, 2014

Florida First In Medicaid Coverage For Mentally Ill

Florida is rolling out new Medicaid plans specifically for people with severe mental health diagnoses.
Florida is rolling out new Medicaid plans specifically for people with severe mental health diagnoses.
Credit Creative Commons of Charles Bell's Anatomy of the Brain, c. 1802 / Flickr user Shaheen Lakhan

  This month, Florida became the first state to offer a Medicaid plan dedicated to people who are diagnosed with severe mental health disorders.

It’s part of a larger move by the state’s Medicaid officials to move coverage towards a managed care system. It means one organization takes care of and coordinates all of a person’s health care needs: no more separate dental, vision, and internal medicine plans.

Mental health issues are almost twice as prevalent among Medicaid recipients than in the general population.

For people with severe mental health diagnosis like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or major depression, this kind of specialized care for Medicaid recipients is an especially big move.

Beth Kidder, deputy secretary for Medicaid operations in Florida, explains:

“People with severe mental illness tend to have many more health problems,” she says. “So if you are treating their mental illness separately and not looking at their physical illness, those two interact with each other.”

She says mental health can affect a person’s ability to care for him or herself or follow directions for managing a condition. Both should be considered when making any type of medical decision.

Miami-Dade and Broward counties began coverage this month and most other counties will roll their out their plans in September.