Primary and Behavioral Health Care Integration Program: Impacts on Health Care Utilization, Cost, and Quality

Rand Health Q. 2021 Aug 16;9(2):3. eCollection 2021 Aug.


This article describes an extension of the RAND Corporation's evaluation of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's Primary and Behavioral Health Care Integration (PBHCI) grants program. PBHCI grants are designed to improve the overall wellness and physical health status of people with serious mental illness or co-occurring substance use disorders by supporting the integration of primary care and preventive PH services into community behavioral health centers where individuals already receive care. From 2010 to 2013, RAND conducted a program evaluation of PBHCI, describing the structure, process, and outcomes for the first three cohorts of grantee programs (awarded in 2009 and 2010). The current study extends previous work by investigating the impact of PBHCI on consumers' health care utilization, total costs of care to Medicaid, and quality of care in three states. The evidence suggests that PBHCI was successful in reducing frequent use of emergency room and inpatient services for physical health conditions, reducing costs of care, and improving follow-up after hospitalization for a mental illness. However, PBHCI evidence does not suggest that PBHCI had a consistent effect on quality of preventive care and health monitoring for chronic physical conditions. These findings can guide the design of future cohorts of PBHCI clinics to build on the strengths with respect to shifting emergency department and inpatient care to less costly and more effective settings and address the continuing challenge of integrating care between specialty behavioral health providers and general medical care providers.

Keywords: Health Care Quality; Health Care Quality Measurement; Health and Health Care; Medicaid; Mental Health Treatment.