Safety Net Health Plans Helping to Improve Mental Health, Substance Use Treatment


FOR MORE INFORMATION: Sara Matthews,, (281) 650-2961 


National health plan collaborative identifies best practices and support needed to maximize efficacy  

 WASHINGTON—Despite facing significant challenges, Medicaid managed care plans are steadily addressing behavioral health and substance use disorders amid the nation’s growing mental health crisis, with managed care plans from across the country working together to share insights.  

An analysis prepared by the Association for Community Affiliated Plans (ACAP) outlines key strategies identified by the ACAP Behavioral Health Learning Collaborative, comprising 12 managed care plans.  

 “Medicaid is the largest public payer for mental health services in the United States, and nearly 70% of enrollees are in a managed care plan,” said Margaret A. Murray, chief executive officer of ACAP. “Safety Net Health Plans are responding to our nation’s mental health crisis the best they can but need more support, including better data and funding, to ensure individuals and families receive the care they need.”

ACAP’s Learning Collaborative identified engagement with health plan staff, enrollees, providers and communities as key to improving outcomes. The collaborative offers recommendations for plans to support these relationships, including strengthening internal data-sharing, improving communication across departments, and building relationships with social services organizations. The analysis highlights case studies of the recommendations in action, including stories of plans using data to predict patients’ need for follow-up services and providing employment and housing supports. 

 “Policymakers and health care stakeholders don’t need to reinvent the wheel to move the needle on mental health. They should focus on tapping into plans’ existing knowledge and equipping them with the tools they need to implement evidence-based solutions,” said Murray. 

 A growing body of research is informing solutions to behavioral health challenges, but experts say putting it into practice remains difficult. Participants in ACAP’s Learning Collaborative cited time and resource constraints amid an ongoing workforce shortage, incomplete data and inconsistent quality measurements, and insufficient funding as significant barriers to adopting evidence-based practices.   

 The Behavioral Health Learning Collaborative was funded by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute and includes the following ACAP Member health plans: Alliance Health (N.C.) AmeriHealth Caritas Louisiana, AmeriHealth Caritas Pennsylvania, Banner University Health Plans (Ariz.), Chorus Community Health Plans (Wisc.), Community Health Choice (Texas), Community Health Plan of Washington, Geisinger Health Plan (Penn.), Health Plan of San Mateo (Calif.), Health Services for Children with Special Needs (D.C.), MDwise (Ind.), and UPMC for You (Penn.). 




About ACAP: 

ACAP represents 80 health plans, which collectively provide health coverage to more than 25 million people. Safety Net Health Plans serve their members through Medicaid, Medicare, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), the Marketplace and other publicly sponsored health programs. For more information, visit