What Does Obama’s New Proposed Budget for Professional Training Mean for Mental Health?

Obama’s budget proposal

“Team health care” approaches are “in” and private practices are apparently on their way “out.” Health Care Reform is bringing many surprises, but none so harsh as the news that focused practitioner groups are more likely to survive sweeping overhaul of the U.S. healthcare reimbursement system. Thoughtful professionals are already seeking new training opportunities, including in telemental health. If President Obama has his budgetary preferences, billions of federal dollars will go toward  re-training our healthcare workforce, including mental health practitioners.

In USA Today, today’s headlines described details of Obama’s new budget proposal, to be formally released next week. If accepted, President Obama’s budget will help address an expected, 100,000 shortage of physician predicted by 2020. Medicaid funding will be focused toward increasing the National Health Services Corps from 8,900 a year to 15,000 a year over the next five years, and spending $5.23 billion to train 13,000 primary care residents over the next 10 years. Specific mental health populations are also slated to benefit from the President’s plan. These are some of the areas of focus in the President’s budget proposal:

  1. As multiple mass shootings have become visible through the media in recent years, the budget also includes $75 million for mental health programs specifically for youth and young adults.
  2. Prisoners are to benefit by having a proposed 8.4 billion “to continue bringing newly completed, or acquired, prisons on line.”
  3. Directing attention to ongoing incidences of military sexual assault, the President includes some of his budget proposal toward “eliminating sexual assault from the military.”

Health Care Reform seeks to lower health care costs by re-organizing America’s healthcare workforce into new team approaches known as integrated care or interdisciplinary care teams. These team-based approaches seek to make needed resources more available by ensuring that everyone on a health team considers the patient’s entire health, rather than just a single aspect.

 The proposal also addresses a shortage of mental health providers by offering residencies for psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners and other mental health providers as part of the team-based approach. The plan would extend Medicare payments to Medicaid providers starting in 2015.

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