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Matters of Fact - KENTUCKY

Access to Treatment for Mental Illness in Medicaid

  • Over 100 thousand of Kentucky’s four million sixty-five thousand residents have a severe mental illness. (U.S. Census 2000; U.S. Center for Mental Health Services)
  • In the year 2000, the estimated number of people age 18 or older with a serious mental disorder living in Kentucky (excluding homeless people or people in institutions) was nearly 75,000 (SAMHSA National Mental Health Information Center)
  • In the year 2000, the estimated number of children and adolescents with a serious mental disorder in the U.S. was 1,866,112, or over 35,000 children in Kentucky. An estimated 17.6 percent of those affected live in poverty. (SAMHSA National Mental Health Information Center)
  • Despite increased need and an eroding system of care for people with mental illness in Kentucky, the state plans to reduce the budget for mental health by 2.5% in FY '05 and another 2.5% in FY '06. 
  • Every week in Kentucky there are 10 people who lose their lives to untreated mental illness (suicide) resulting in a loss of life for over 500 Kentuckians per year.
  • Prior authorization programs for people in Medicaid are a dangerous proposition for persons with mental illness. Prior authorization programs for people with mental illness have the potential to further erode a very tenuous community system of care. (NAMI Policy Research Institute, State Action Alert, April 2003)
  • Untreated mental disorders cost the U.S. economy and business more than $70 billion annually to lost productivity. (U.S. Surgeon General)
  • In fiscal year 2001, the average value of increased business activity generated from Kentucky’s one billion in Medicaid spending was $4.8 billion, or a rate of return per dollar invested in Medicaid of over $4.70. ("Medicaid: Good Medicine for State Economics", Families USA, January 2003)


  • As a result of every dollar saved by reducing the budget on medication for patients in Medicaid with Schizophrenia, $17 was spent on emergency services to those patients as a consequence. (New Hampshire)
  • Forcing people with mental illnesses to switch to cheaper medications cost the state $6,000 to $8,000 additional dollars per patient due to increased hospitalizations. (California)
  • Restricting access to medications through drug formularies increased Louisiana’s Medicaid cost by 4.1 percent. (Louisiana)

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