A combination of factors make timely, appropriate access to behavioral health care a challenge for many Floridians, including children. The result is that too many individuals with behavioral health needs rely on clinically inappropriate care settings, such as hospital emergency departments, to receive needed behavioral health treatment.

COVID19 created new challenges as more people are experiencing symptoms of mental illness and substance use disorder. Hospitals across the state are working with community groups, state agencies, advocates, consumer groups, and health care providers to implement and sustain systems of care that more timely meet the behavioral health needs of Florida residents.

2023 Legislative Priorities

  1. Support statewide efforts to collect meaningful data on the availability of behavioral health care providers and other critical elements of the continuum of care.
  2. Continue to expand and support community-based care delivery models, including Florida Assertive Community Treatment (FACT) Teams, Community Action Teams (CAT), Mobile Response Teams (MRTs), and Family Intensive Treatment (FIT).
  3. Increase access to behavioral health services to address delivery gaps in treatment.
  4. Support additional changes to the Baker and Marchman Acts.
  5. Support additional funding to increase the number of available beds for involuntary admissions.
  6. Expand the definition of telehealth to include audio-only services.
  7. Provide robust oversight of Medicaid managed care plans to ensure they reimburse behavioral health providers fairly and reduce unnecessary denials.
  8. Implement policies to better integrate and coordinate behavioral health services with physical health services.

Community Mental Health

Expanding Florida’s commitment to the Community Mental Health model will help secure crucial behavioral health treatment for Floridians who need it most. Florida currently ranks 43rd in the U.S. with a behavioral health patient-to-provider ratio of 550:1.

Eliminating barriers to appropriate behavioral health treatment makes Florida a healthier place to live. The Florida Hospital Association advocates for policies that improve access to the right care, in the right setting, at the right time.

Leveraging Federal Medicaid Reimbursement

The state of Florida has access to significant amounts of federal funding that is not currently being used. By leveraging federal Medicaid reimbursement for services currently administered through other programs, Florida could tap into hundreds of millions of Medicaid federal matching funds.

Accessing this funding does not require expanding current Medicaid eligibility and will allow Florida to better care for the 5 million low-income Floridians who are currently served through this vital safety net program.

The Baker and Marchman Acts

The Baker and Marchman Acts became law more than 50 years ago and have not been modified to reflect societal changes and advancements of the law and mental health services.

FHA supports the modernization of both laws to consider the dynamics of individuals with serious mental illness or drug addiction who are in a cycle of incarceration, hospitalization, and homelessness.

Community Response Teams

The investment in behavioral health services is a priority of FHA, addressing the barriers to access by exploring legislative and institutional opportunities to support and expand access to behavioral health care. Opportunities to expand Floridians access to treatment is investing and expanding funding opportunities in behavioral health community-based behavioral health programs.

Leveraging Medicaid Reimbursement Funding by State Agencies

Florida’s Medicaid program is a vital safety net program funding critical health care services for more than
5 million Floridians, primarily children.

Hospitals provide care to vulnerable children and adults through access to hospital services as well as primary care, behavioral health, long-term care, post-acute care,
and specialty services.

Dispensing Naloxone

Opioid use and deaths from overdoses are rapidly increasing. Effective medication (Naloxone) is available to reverse opioid overdoses.

FHA supports widespread education efforts on the availability, use, and effectiveness of Naloxone as one means of reducing overdose deaths.

Behavioral Health Data Profile

A combination of factors creates challenges for many Floridians to access affordable, appropriate, and timely behavioral health care. The result is that too many adults and children in Florida with behavioral health needs must rely on clinically inappropriate care settings, such as hospital emergency departments, to receive needed behavioral health treatment. COVID-19 has created new challenges for the behavioral health care system as more people experience symptoms of mental illness and substance use disorder.

Standing Tall for Florida’s Hospitals

Hospital Days was at the Florida Capitol | March 15-16, 2023