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Summary: SB 58 would establish the Behavioral Health and Physical Health Services Network (network) for the purpose of integrating behavioral and physical health services for Medicaid-eligible patients in the Medicaid managed care program created by Chapter 533, Government Code. SB 58 would require Managed Care Organizations (MCOs) operating under this chapter to develop a network of public and private behavioral health service providers so that mentally ill adults and emotionally disturbed children have access to a “comprehensive array of services.” SB 58 calls for two pilot programs to be implemented in separate areas of the state for people who have serious mental illness and at least one other chronic health condition. The bill would also create the Behavioral Health Integration Advisory Committee to oversee this network. According to the Legislative Budget Board (LBB), SB 58’s provisions will save taxpayers approximately $9 million over Fiscal Years 2014-2018.
Analysis: SB 58 is a clear expansion of government that may yield savings for taxpayers in the long run. On the one hand it is certain that the new advisory committee and pilot programs will have an associated cost, there is a reasonable chance that the pilot programs will create far greater savings for taxpayers than the cost of the programs themselves. Still, these future savings are speculative and it is uncertain whether they will materialize. We are neutral on SB 58.