Let Medicaid cover inpatient mental-health care



Even as mental-health tragedies walk the city’s streets, New York keeps reducing its number of inpatient mental-health treatment beds. The folks at the Manhattan Institute want to fix that by ending the federal ban on Medicaid support for “IMDs” — institutions that treat mental disease.

MI’s Stephen Eide and Carolyn D. Gorman argue that the federal ban, in place since Medicaid’s birth in 1965, has “outlived its usefulness.” By denying federal funds, it “discourages states from investing in inpatient care, hampering access to a necessary form of treatment for some seriously mentally ill individuals.”

As it stands, roughly 5 percent of the adult population suffers serious mental illness; some of them desperately need treatment in a hospital setting — which, no surprise, these people can’t afford on their own, nor do they have private insurance.

But Medicaid only covers outpatient care for those aged 21 to 64 except at tiny facilities. So with no money to pay for it, the country has vanishingly few mental-health beds. And the ones that exist keep getting reduced.

Back in ’65, the goal was to discourage states from dumping mental-health costs on the feds and to “encourage investments in community services.” But communities can only do so much: Just look at the people living (and, tragically often, raving) on the city’s streets.

America should get them the help they need.


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