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At a Glance


U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation

Project Time Frame:



Identifying Mental Health Policy Issues in Context of Health Care Reform

Although health reform efforts are likely to shape the continued evolution in access to and use of mental health services, the health reform debate has rarely addressed these issues. The goal of this project was to help the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) establish a policy and research agenda pertaining to mental health services. Specifically, Mathematica identified mental health-related policy issues in the context of health care reform and promising models of comprehensive community-based crisis systems in the management, care, and diversion of people with mental illnesses. Our subcontractor, the Council of State Governments Justice Center, led tasks related to crisis management systems.

Mathematica commissioned three papers to address mental health policy issues on the following topics:

  • Expanded health insurance coverage and benefit levels
  • Health insurance exchanges
  • The future of the mental health and substance abuse delivery systems
In collaboration with Mathematica, the Justice Center developed a paper describing promising collaborative practices used by hospitals, community mental health providers, and justice agencies to reduce the use of emergency rooms and jails by people with mental illness. The paper was discussed at an expert panel meeting and revised based on panel comments.

We held an expert panel meeting to discuss the papers. Drawing on the papers and these meetings, Mathematica produced a memo that summarized key themes and discussed policy.