Policymakers in Pennsylvania and across the nation are prioritizing efforts to improve health outcomes and access to care for people with behavioral health conditions, especially those with serious mental illness and substance use disorders. These individuals face greater risks of poor social outcomes such as homelessness and unemployment, are more likely to be diagnosed with chronic physical health conditions, and have higher rates of Medicaid spending than individuals without behavioral health needs. One key strategy for addressing these challenges is by improving access to integrated care.

To inform efforts to improve access to integrated care in Pennsylvania, this Center for Health Care Strategies report explores the national behavioral health integration landscape, reviews key characteristics of Pennsylvania’s Behavioral HealthChoices Program, and highlights innovative county-based programs across the state. It draws from state and national lessons to outline six broad opportunities to build on strengths of the HealthChoices system, leverage new federal flexibilities, and pursue policies to better facilitate integration. While focused on Pennsylvania, this resource offers relevant insights for stakeholders nationally. The report is made possible by COMCARE (County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania, County Managed Care Resource).