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Mental and behavioral health

Narrowly-focused one-size-fits-all integrated care bill introduced in Congress

APA has been engaging with members of Congress on the effectiveness of multiple models of evidence-based integrated care. This effort is now more urgent with the introduction in Congress of legislation to spend millions of dollars promoting only one narrowly-defined model.

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Barstow, S. (2021, September 15). Narrowly-focused one-size-fits-all integrated care bill introduced in Congress.

Capitol dome with American flag

APA has been working with psychologists to educate members of Congress about the effectiveness of integrated primary and behavioral health care, and the range of evidence-based models and interventions that can improve patient outcomes. This work has been made possible through the assistance of APA’s Integrated Primary Care Advisory Group, division leaders, and the many psychologist practitioners, researchers, and state leaders in the development and implementation of integrated care. 

Legislation has been introduced in Congress that demonstrates the importance of ramping up and expanding this work. As its name implies, the Collaborate in an Orderly and Cohesive Manner (COCM) Act introduced by Representatives Lizzie Fletcher (D-TX) and Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA) would authorize $30 million in funding to promote implementation of the Collaborative Care Model (CoCM) that meets criteria established by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for reimbursement using CoCM CPT codes. CMS criteria for reimbursement of CoCM services requires that services be provided with the participation of a psychiatric consultant who is a medical professional trained in psychiatry and qualified to prescribe the full range of medications.

While the CoCM model has been shown to be effective, APA is concerned that the legislation’s narrow focus on a one-size-fits-all approach to integrated care will miss a key opportunity to help primary care providers implement effective integrated care programs—including through the Primary Care Behavioral Health model and others—in a way that best serves their patients and resources. At a time of dire need for better access to effective mental health, substance use disorder, and health behavior services, it is imperative that Congress support all evidence-based integrated care models.

For more information, contact Scott Barstow.