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Increasing Access to Behavioral Health Care


A combination of factors make timely, appropriate access to behavioral health care a challenge for many Floridians, including children. The result is that too many individuals with behavioral health needs rely on clinically inappropriate care settings, such as hospital emergency departments, to receive needed behavioral health treatment.

COVID–19 created new challenges as more people are experiencing symptoms of mental illness and substance use disorder. Hospitals across the state are working with community groups, state agencies, advocates, consumer groups, and health care providers to implement and sustain systems of care that more timely meet the behavioral health needs of Florida residents.

Community Mental Health

Expanding Florida’s commitment to the Community Mental Health model will help secure crucial behavioral health treatment for Floridians who need it most. Florida currently ranks 43rd in the U.S. with a behavioral health patient-to-provider ratio of 550:1.

Eliminating barriers to appropriate behavioral health treatment makes Florida a healthier place to live. The Florida Hospital Association advocates for policies that improve access to the right care, in the right setting, at the right time.

Leveraging Federal Medicaid Reimbursement

The state of Florida has access to significant amounts of federal funding that is not currently being used. By leveraging federal Medicaid reimbursement for services currently administered through other programs, Florida could tap into hundreds of millions of Medicaid federal matching funds.

Accessing this funding does not require expanding current Medicaid eligibility and will allow Florida to better care for the 5 million low-income Floridians who are currently served through this vital safety net program.

The Baker and Marchman Acts

The Baker and Marchman Acts became law more than 50 years ago and have not been modified to reflect societal changes and advancements of the law and mental health services.

FHA supports the modernization of both laws to consider the dynamics of individuals with serious mental illness or drug addiction who are in a cycle of incarceration, hospitalization, and homelessness.

Community Response Teams

The investment in behavioral health services is a priority of FHA, addressing the barriers to access by exploring legislative and institutional opportunities to support and expand access to behavioral health care. Opportunities to expand Floridians access to treatment is investing and expanding funding opportunities in behavioral health community-based behavioral health programs.

Leveraging Medicaid Reimbursement

Florida is eligible for significant federal funding that it is not currently using. By leveraging federal Medicaid reimbursement for services currently administered through and financed by other state agencies and programs, Florida could tap into hundreds of millions of Medicaid federal matching funds, freeing up state-only funds for other programs.

Naloxone Distribution

Opioid use and deaths from overdoses are rapidly increasing. Effective medication (Naloxone) is available to reverse opioid overdoses. FHA supports widespread education efforts on the availability, use, and effectiveness of Naloxone as one means of reducing overdose deaths.

Behavioral Health Data Profile for Florida

FHA believes that behavioral health care efforts should not solely focus on the individual in crisis. The care of the psychiatric and substance use disorder population must be addressed with a collaborative approach and a plan to address the social determinants of health that work to impede in developing self-sufficiency and resiliency. This can be achieved by expanding community-based support, increasing.

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