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Florida Becomes First U.S. State to Cover Mental Illness Under Medicaid

Coverage under Medicaid began at the beginning of July in the Sunshine State.

Jackson Health System in Miami (pictured) is one of America's largest public health systems and among the first to treat people with mental illness under public assistance. (Photo: Flickr/Phillip)
Jackson Health System in Miami (pictured) is one of America's largest public health systems and among the first to treat people with mental illness under public assistance. (Photo: Flickr/Phillip)

Florida has taken the lead in destigmatizing mental illness in America by becoming the first state to provide a plan tailored to cover related conditions under Medicaid.

The coverage is part of a long-range goal to provide comprehensive holistic care to patients who use public health assistance.

Florida’s Medicaid now covers many of the most debilitating mental health conditions, like schizophrenia, major depressive and bipolar disorders.

Coverage of mental health conditions under Medicaid began roll out in Florida’s two largest counties, Miami-Dade and Broward, July 1.

Mental health services under Medicaid have historically been contracted out to private healthcare providers. This system muddied communication between private insurers and the state-run program, Kaiser Health News reports. Additionally, chronically ill patients account for “a large share” of public health spending.

But the restructured Medicaid seeks to change that.

“Under the Managed Medical Assistance program [of Florida’s Medicaid Managed care program], all recipients will receive their mental health and medical services through one plan,” Florida Medicaid spokeswoman Shelisha Coleman tells Patch.

Kaiser estimates 140,000 low-income Floridians will be eligible for coverage, with 20,000 voluntarily signing up in the first year.

Mental illness is among America’s most common and most-ignored ailments, according to the American Medical Association.

Kaiser Health says the rollout of the services is contracted to Connecticut-based Magellan Complete Care, with anticipated costs of up to $1.5 billion over five years.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, mandates improving mental health services nationwide.

Arizona, Minnesota, and Tennessee are implementing similar programs in attempts to improve mental health outcomes.

As previously reported on Patch, Florida is one of 24 states that have yet to expand Medicaid coverage to an estimated 800,000 residents eligible for the assistance under Obamacare.
Steve July 08, 2014 at 07:19 PM
It would be lovely if the article also included the fact that Florida did this after refusing to expand Medicaid coverage. Wonderful ton give out a benefit you know you'll never have to spend a dime on.
Richard J. Broye July 09, 2014 at 08:23 AM
This was done to help the politicians when they retire! They will all line up,when they claim mental stress over all of the pressures of decision makings!!
Diana Smith July 09, 2014 at 10:48 AM
Its about time Florida helps people with bipolar and such illness. A lot of folks need this help. Many of the bad guys now cant say they couldn't get help when committing a murder or crime. WTG Florida.

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