OIG: Lack of BH Providers in Medicare/Medicaid Impedes Access to Care

OIG: Lack of BH Providers in Medicare/Medicaid Impedes Access to Care

Lack of BH Providers in Medicare and Medicaid Impedes Enrollees’ Access to Care

The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) has released a report citing there are not enough behavioral health providers participating in Medicare and Medicaid networks.

In an analysis published April 2, the government watchdog studied one urban and one rural county in 10 states across the country. The analysis found relatively few behavioral health providers are participating in Medicaid, Medicare, and Medicare Advantage programs, leading to difficulties in access for enrollees.

Notable Findings:

  1. On average, there were fewer than five active behavioral health providers accepting Medicare and Medicaid patients per 1,000 enrollees. Traditional Medicare had the lowest rates of providers, at 2.9 per 1,000 on average, and Medicare Advantage had the highest rate at 4.7 per 1,000 enrollees.
  2. Rural counties had fewer providers accepting Medicare and Medicaid than urban counties. In rural counties, there were 1.5 providers accepting traditional Medicare per 1,000 patients, compared to 4.4 in urban counties.
  3. Across Medicaid, traditional Medicare, and Medicare Advantage, there were fewer than two providers per 1,000 enrollees that could prescribe medication for mental health issues, such as psychiatrists and psychiatric nurse practitioners.
  4. Active providers accepting public insurance make up around one-third of the behavioral health workforce, according to the report.
  5. Fewer than 10% of public insurance beneficiaries received mental health treatment in 2023.
  6. CMS could also tighten network adequacy standards in Medicare Advantage and Medicaid to increase the size of insurers’ networks, the OIG said in its report.
  7. The OIG recommended CMS up its oversight of Medicaid and Medicare enrollees’ use of behavioral health services, and recommended CMS examine allowing more types of behavioral health providers to participate in Medicare and Medicaid.
  8. CMS said it concurred with the OIG’s recommendations and said it has already taken several steps to improve access to behavioral health providers for Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries.

If you have questions please contact RCPA COO and Director of Mental Health Jim Sharp.