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6/15 – Board Approves Mental Health Expansion

The Central Health Board of Managers voted to approve a service expansion with Austin Travis County Integral Care (ATCIC) to support additional inpatient mental health services and fund two new pilot programs.

The contract expansion increases funding for ATCIC from $3,336,548 per year by $1,700,000, for a total cap of $5,066,548, to expand mental healthcare services for eligible Travis County residents (generally, at or below 200 percent of the federal Poverty Guidelines). The funding is derived from budgeted service expansion funds. The expansion was deemed necessary due to the continued increase in admissions and utilization of inpatient beds – fiscal year 2011 admissions are up seven percent over 2010. Fiscal year 2010 was the first year Central Health provided funding to ATCIC and which saw a staggering 90 percent increase over 2009, clearly demonstrating considerable but previously unmet demand for those services. With a growing population and Austin State Hospital frequently being placed on diversion, the necessity of expanded mental health services is an ongoing challenge for Central Health and its partners such as ATCIC.

In addition to inpatient care, the expansion also funds two new ATCIC pilot programs. The first program is an expansion to the 32 existing crisis respite beds to a new total of 41 beds. The program provides a short-term service that provides supportive case management for patients experiencing psychiatric crisis. The average stay is 7 to 14 days. The second program is a partial hospitalization psychiatric program (PHP), sometimes more commonly known as “day hospital”, which maintains individuals with chronic behavioral health disorders in a controlled environment, without the need for inpatient hospitalization. The program will provide diagnostic services, psychiatric evaluation, individual and group psychotherapy, specialized therapies, family counseling and educational programming. Both programs will supplement existing inpatient care to maximize resources and improve outcomes.

Mental health services continually remain among the most underfunded areas of healthcare in the State of Texas, which ranks last in the nation for funding of care. Since its creation, Central Health has placed mental health services in Travis County among its top priorities, and has directly funded services at regional facilities since 2006. Central Health in 2010 directly funded more than 68 percent of the 1,659 inpatient mental health admissions in Travis County.

More information can be found within the Central Health Fiscal Year 2010 Annual Report.