CHCS - Center for Health Care Strategies

Improving the quality and cost-effectiveness of publicly financed health care

Improving Medicaid Managed Care for Youth with Serious Behavioral Health Needs: A Quality Improvement Toolkit

Kamala Allen, Center for Health Care Strategies; Sheila A. Pires, Human Service Collaborative
September 2009
Annie E. Casey Foundation

Youth with serious emotional disorders are a high-utilizing and high-cost Medicaid population that is not well served by traditional approaches to care. Managed care organizations (MCOs) are uniquely positioned to deliver more appropriate and cost-effective care that addresses the complex needs of these children and young adults.

The Collaborative on Improving Managed Care Quality for Youth with Serious Behavioral Health Needs, an initiative designed by CHCS and made possible by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, worked with nine health plans to test a number of approaches to better serve this population. This toolkit, which summarizes the participating plans' experiences, presents:

  • Promising practices implemented by the plans, and the resulting impact on access, care, and avoidance of unnecessary services and costs;
  • Challenges identified and addressed by the plans, and lessons learned; and
  • Opportunities for continued innovations in care for children and youth with serious behavioral health needs.

The toolkit is a valuable resource for MCOs, policymakers, state agencies, families, and others interested in innovative approaches to improve behavioral health care for youth.


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