Impact of Supreme Court Ruling to Uphold Federal Health Reform Law and Its Effect on Behavioral Health

On Thursday 6/28, the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to uphold the Affordable Care Act. The major impact on behavioral health care providers can be divided in to 3 categories:

1. Increased access to care

Care access will increase because of provisions in the law to increase Medicaid coverage, create health information exchanges, and mandates to purchase coverage for businesses and individuals. Along with parity, this will dramatically increase the numbers of patients seeking mental health treatment. This will likely increase patient flow and the need for streamlined processes to enhance productivity for behavioral health care practices and will tax the stressed private and public behavioral health care systems.

2. Collaboration and Care Coordination

Collaboration and care coordination will become more important as the incentive system gradually shifts from fee for service to value based payments. Even those not eligible for federal incentives for meaningful use of EHR adoption will need to adopt EHR’s for data capture and health information exchange with collaborating providers to support care coordination.

3. Focus on Outcomes

Finally, this law will accelerate the trend towards Measurement Based Care as there will be a greater focus on tying payments to quality of care as measured by patient outcomes in EHR systems.

Overall, this ruling is monumental for the health care industry as a whole. It will be crucial to understand any new requirements which may result as health care evolves over time and as we start gathering and tracking more of our patients’ outcomes.

AUTHOR: Heather Grube

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