Collaborative Earns Grant from Hogg Foundation to Study Impact of Medicaid on People with Mental Illness
December 18, 2009
HOUSTON — A collaborative of local academic, government and health care organizations has received a $30,000 grant from the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health to determine the gap between the need for public mental health services in Houston and the extent to which Medicaid funds them.
The study will measure the availability of Medicaid–funded mental health services for people with serious, persistent mental health conditions. The study also will identify barriers that prevent people who qualify for these services from receiving them.
"Harris County has about 181,000 people with serious and persistent mental illness, and nearly half don't have access to public or private services," said William B. Schnapp, Ph.D., director of the collaborative and an associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences. "People with severe mental illness often have cognitive disabilities that prevent them from completing the incredibly difficult, complicated Medicaid application process."
The study has statewide implications because Medicaid is the largest source of public mental health funding in Texas, accounting for 25 percent of the state's budget. The study could help state policy makers increase the program's effectiveness in Texas by identifying ways to increase Medicaid access and benefits for people with mental health conditions.
"Medicaid is a critical source of funding for public health services in Texas. This study will help address a knowledge gap, thereby enabling policymakers to assess the effectiveness of Medicaid-funded mental health services. This has the potential to affect thousands of lives for the better," said Dr. Octavio N. Martinez, Jr., executive director of the Hogg Foundation.
The study will be conducted by the Mental Health Policy Analysis Collaborative, based at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. Members include faculty of Baylor College of Medicine, Rice University, University of Houston's Graduate College of Social Work, University of Texas Medical School, and University of Texas School of Public Health. The Texas Department of Public Health and Texas Medicaid Office will partner in the study.
The Medicaid research project will collect and analyze data on recipients in Harris County to identify who is and, more importantly, who is not served by the federal program. The availability of Medicaid to people who are homeless or involved with the criminal justice system will be identified, as well as the outcome of treatments.
The resulting "data warehouse" will be combined with existing Medicaid data, giving it the potential to become the most comprehensive dataset of its kind in the United States, according to the collaborative. Analytical reports will be produced in five areas: Harris County Medicaid recipients, service access patterns, service utilization patterns, juvenile and adult criminal justice systems, and people who are homeless.
Findings will be distributed to public officials, published in national journals, and dispersed to advocacy organizations and the general public. The collaborative hopes the project will serve as a blueprint for analyzing the effectiveness of Medicaid policies in other Texas counties.
The organization is one of four groups in Texas that received a total of $265,348 in policy project grants from the Hogg Foundation this month. The foundation awarded the grants to significant projects that will lead to better understanding and improvements in policies and processes that affect Texas consumers of mental health services.
The Hogg Foundation was founded in 1940 by the children of former Texas Governor James Hogg to promote improved mental health for the people of Texas. The foundation's grants and programs support mental health consumer services, research, policy analysis and public education projects in Texas. The foundation is part of the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement at The University of Texas at Austin.