Adequate behavioral health services are vital to ensuring that Connecticut’s primary care infrastructure will work well for all our residents. This was the focus of yesterday’s Primary Care Access Authority meeting in Hartford. The session outlined some of the behavioral health services currently available in our state and showed the impact of healthcare staffing recruitment and retention problems on behavioral health capacity.
More striking to me, though: the barriers to designing a system of service that most effectively will address behavioral and physical health needs. Where primary care providers work closely with behavioral health clinicians, behavioral causes of physical ailments and physical causes of behavioral ailments are more likely to be diagnosed and treated. Also, having integrated services helps alleviate the stigma that is sometimes attached to seeking behavioral health services.
It is a model that has worked. But this type of integrated care has been implemented in limited cases because, as Donna Campbell from the Village for Children and Families said yesterday, the current reimbursement structure discourages this team approach. As the state considers how to make our health care system work, we have to make sure that incentives and disincentives support rather than undermine good healthcare.