Objectives: One of the goals of managed mental health care has been to lower the use of inpatient psychiatric treatment. In the past, interventions that have limited hospitalization for persons with severe mental illness have led to greater involvement of these individuals with the criminal justice and forensic mental health systems. The authors examined associations between Medicaid managed mental health care in Massachusetts and rates of admission to the inpatient forensic mental health service maintained by the state's mental health department.
Methods: A total of 7,996 persons who were receiving services from the department before and after the introduction of managed care were studied. A logistic regression model based on generalized estimating equations was used to identify associations between Medicaid beneficiary status and forensic hospitalization before and after the introduction of managed care.
Results: The overall rate of forensic hospitalization declined in the study cohort in both periods. However, no significant decline was observed in the risk of forensic hospitalization among Medicaid beneficiaries whose care had become managed.
Conclusions: Although the results of this study warrant further exploration, the risk of forensic hospitalization among Medicaid beneficiaries should be considered by policy makers in the design of mental health system interventions.