Mental Health Services: The Effect of Variations in State Policies

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Project completed:
March 2005
Nationally, the rate of mental illness is similar for persons living in urban and rural areas. However, the availability and use of mental health services is worse in rural areas than urban ones. Many factors contribute to the relatively low use of mental health services in rural areas. In particular, state licensure or 'scope of practice' acts are thought to have a profound effect on access since third party payers often base their payment and coverage decisions on these state policies. This study identified variations in state licensure and payment or coverage polices and examined the effect of these variations on the availability of mental health services in rural areas. The study design is intended to classify states by the mix of their policies on licensure, payment and coverage for mental health services, and to examine the effects of these combined policies on the avail-ability of mental health services in rural areas. Final products will include a report with policy recommendations, a policy brief, and two presentations targeted at rural stakeholders and state policymakers.

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