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Inpatient Psychiatric Hospitals

MedPAC’s description of inpatient psychiatric hospitals provides an accurate overview of the critical behavioral health role these institutions play in their communities, especially for seniors and disabled Americans:

“Medicare beneficiaries with serious mental illnesses or alcohol- and drug-related problems may be treated in specialty inpatient psychiatric facilities (IPFs). Beneficiaries who use IPFs are among the most vulnerable in Medicare. A majority are disabled and low income. They tend to be heavy users of health care services, in part because their mental illnesses may undermine their willingness or ability to comply with recommended care. Often, they have additional medical needs that may complicate their treatment. The services furnished by IPFs are intended to meet the urgent needs of patients experiencing an acute mental health crisis.”

The paramount challenge today for policymakers is to provide a regulatory and payment environment that ensures beneficiaries with mental illness have immediate access to the behavioral health care treatment that only inpatient psychiatric hospitals offer.