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CMS: Mental Health Services Slow To Rebound During Pandemic

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An analysis of the Medicaid and CHIP programs shows that during the first eight months of the pandemic, there was a 34% dip in services obtained by people under age 19 and a 22% decrease by adults.

Although utilization rates for some health care treatments have rebounded to pre-pandemic levels, a new federal report shows that mental health services have had the slowest rebound in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

According to the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, 26 million fewer mental health services were provided between March and October 2020, when compared to a similar time frame in 2019.

The analysis of the Medicaid and CHIP programs shows that during the first eight months of the pandemic, 14 million fewer mental health services were obtained by people under age 19 and 12 million fewer services were obtained by adults. That’s a 34 percent dip in services for young people and a 22 percent dip for adults.

CMS Acting Administrator Liz Richte in a prepared statement said preliminary data for 2021 is encouraging, with health care services beginning to rebound to levels before the COVID-19 pandemic. But the statement cautioned “there is work to do to connect people to mental health care services and to ensure we fill the gap” in other types of services caused by the pandemic.

Medicaid is a federal-state program that, with the Children’s Health Insurance Program, provides health coverage to over 72.5 million Americans.

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