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News and Notes   |    
News Briefs
Psychiatric Services 2011; doi: 10.1176/appi.ps.62.4.441
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Copyright © 2011 by the American Psychiatric Association.

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Bazelon fact sheets on SSI for children with mental disabilities: Three new fact sheets from the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law explain how Supplemental Security Income (SSI) can help low-income children with mental disorders. The first, "SSI Benefits for Children with Mental Disorders: Background," explains eligibility rules for children in terms of physical or mental conditions that severely limit the child's ability to function, with a link to financial eligibility rules, which are the same as those for adults. It briefly describes the application and decision process, with a link to more detailed information. "A Closer Look at Child Mental Disabilities and SSI Eligibility" describes the two sets of criteria on which these children are evaluated and lists pertinent diagnostic categories and definitions. "The SSI Program Provides Necessary Support for Low-Income Children with Mental Disorders," the third fact sheet, provides a profile of families who have children receiving SSI, including data on the the economic burden to these families and their service needs. The fact sheets are available on the Bazelon site at www.bazelon.org.

Kaiser reports on Medicaid enrollment and spending during the recession: The Kaiser Family Foundation's Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured has released three new papers that examine Medicaid enrollment and spending during the recent recession, including Medicaid Enrollment: June 2010 Data Snapshot (seven pages), Medicaid Spending Growth Over the Last Decade and the Great Recession, 2000 to 2009 (24 pages), and a fact sheet highlighting key findings from both documents. The analyses show that Medicaid enrollment rose above 50 million people nationally for the first time in 2010, reflecting the program's counter-cyclical role of helping people who become uninsured when the economy falters, with many turning to Medicaid after losing jobs and employer-based health insurance. Without access to Medicaid coverage, millions more people would likely have joined the ranks of America's now 50 million uninsured. The recession-driven enrollment growth in recent years drove program spending to increase faster than national health spending overall, but on a per-enrollee basis the growth in Medicaid spending has remained lower than the rise in private insurance premiums and overall national health expenditures. The recession-driven increase in Medicaid enrollment has been the primary cause of the increase in overall Medicaid spending. The new reports are available at www.kff.org/medicaid/index.cfm.

Kaiser snapshot of CHIP enrollment: For the first time in the history of the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) enrollment has exceeded five million. The latest data snapshot from the Kaiser Commission provides the most recent CHIP data—through December 2009—on enrollment and policy trends nationally and at the state level. In the month of December 2009, a total of 5,085,107 children were enrolled in CHIP, a 4.5% increase in enrollment from a year earlier. This significant increase continued a growth trend observed over the previous three years. At the time of this enrollment snapshot, states had more certainty about federal CHIP financing because of the enactment of the Children's Health Insurance Reauthorization Act in March 2009. The legislation also included incentives for states to find and enroll eligible children in Medicaid and CHIP and to simplify and streamline the enrollment processes for these programs. However, states also were facing fiscal challenges as a result of the recession that started in December 2007. The enactment of national health reform legislation that extended CHIP funding through 2015 and continues the program through 2019 did not come until March 2010, after the period for this data snapshot. The eight-page Kaiser report, which is based on survey responses and data provided by CHIP directors in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, is available at www.kff.org/medicaid/7642.cfm.

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