The Missouri Department of Mental Health launched a new pilot program nearly eighteen months ago, that will save taxpayers millions of dollars annually and help those who have chronic medical conditions and mental illness.
Dr. Joseph Parks, chief clinical officer for the Missouri Department of Mental Health says three out of five people with mental illness die from a preventative disease because they have trouble managing their chronic illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease and asthma.
“People with serious mental illness are much more likely to have multiple chronic medical conditions than the general population,” says Parks. “Many more people die of heart attacks than suicide among the mentally ill.” The reason for this is due to lack of being treated because their mental illnesses interfere with concentration, organization and persistence.
According to its press release, this innovative project represents a seismic shift in how Medicaid has traditionally been administered. Instead of waiting for mentally ill clients to use the health care system on their own (often inefficiently and with poor results), the state seeks them out and invites them to enroll in a Community Mental Health Center where they can find help managing both their physical and mental health care needs, by receiving high quality health care.
Parks says through the program, the department then has their local community health centers go out to patients’ homes in need, and offer to assist them in making sure they have a regular primary care physician. He says, “Health care is confusing to most of us, and it gets much more complicated and difficult for someone with cognitive impairment.”
The program has already saved the state $9.2 million dollars in the past 12 months, which is an average of $588 per month per enrollee, though it is a selective process for those who apply depending on the severity of their chronic medical Illness and mental illness.
AUDIO: Mary Farucci reports (0:56)