Children with Behavioral Health Needs on Medicaid Prompt System Redesign

In a recent report, the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) and the Research and Data Analysis Division (RDA) collaborated to redesign the state’s children’s behavioral health service delivery system. To illustrate the redesign process, this report describes the behavioral health needs and other characteristics of children and youth with Medicaid coverage.

The report elaborates on key findings that prompt the system redesign. More than one in five children and youth receiving Medicare coverage in Washington State live with behavioral health needs identified by administrative data systems. The majority of children with these needs obtain coverage from Family Medical or other non-disabled Medicaid coverage groups. Of the behavioral health needs for which children and youth receive Medicaid coverage, depression, anxiety, and ADHD/conduct disorders are shown to be the most prevalent. About one third of children and youth on Medicaid have a history of reported maltreatment. Furthermore, children and youth with behavioral health needs have higher rates of past abuse and neglect than other children and youth living without such needs. One third of children with behavioral health needs were seen in an emergency department at least once during SFY 2011, compared to only 18 percent of children with no indication of such needs. These rates demonstrate the urgency for an efficient service delivery system so that children may receive the best care and quality of life possible and data related to their behavioral health needs may be aggregated and utilized to generate significant findings.

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