MassHealth Children's Behavioral Health Initiative leads to large increase in behavioral health screening during primary care visits

August 17, 2016

A UMass Medical School-led study aimed to assess the impact of a Massachusetts Medicaid policy change known as the Children's Behavioral Health Initiative (CBHI) on primary care practice examining the relationship of behavioral health screening to subsequent behavioral health service utilization. CBHI required and reimbursed behavioral health screening with standardized tools at well child visits and developed intensive home- and community-based BH services. The study found:

  • CBHI had a large impact on formal behavioral health screening and treatment utilization among children/adolescents enrolled in Medicaid. Screening increased substantially (73% in 2010, and 74% in 2012) compared to 4% in 2007;
  • BH utilization increased among those formally screened but decreased among those with informal assessments; and
  • Changes in regulation and payment resulted in widespread behavioral health screening in primary care practices caring for children/adolescents on Medicaid.