Funder: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

Author: Jürgen Unützer, MD, MPH, University of Washington; Henry Harbin, MD, Health Care Consultant and former CEO of Magellan Health Services; Michael Schoenbaum, PhD, National Institute of Mental Health; and Benjamin Druss, MD, MPH, Emory University

May 2013 | Brief


States across the country are seeking evidence-based approaches to improve the health care of high-need, high-cost Medicaid populations. Strategies to improve the integration of physical and behavioral health care are essential for such individuals with complex needs as are innovative payment models to cover the costs of care.

The collaborative care model offers one approach to integration in which primary care providers, care managers, and psychiatric consultants work together to provide care and monitor patients’ progress. Programs using this model have been achieved improved clinical outcomes and reduced costs for a variety of mental health conditions, in a variety of settings, using several different payment mechanisms. This brief highlights the collaborative care model as a potential option for implementing integrated care under the Medicaid health homes authority described in Section 2703 of the Affordable Care Act.