Florida tries new approach to mental health treatment

Florida tries new approach to mental health treatment

Seeking to improve care and lower costs, Florida this month became the first state to offer a Medicaid health plan designed exclusively for people with serious mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia, major depression or bipolar conditions.

The plan — offered by Avon, Conn.-based Magellan Complete Care — is part of a wave of state experimentation to coordinate physical and mental health care for those enrolled in Medicaid.

Mental illness is a big driver of Medicaid costs because it is twice as prevalent among beneficiaries of the public insurance program for the poor as it is among the general population. Studies show that enrollees with mental illness, who also have chronic physical conditions, account for a large share of Medicaid spending.

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