From the Administrator: Tracking Trends To Transform Health Care
the prevalence of morbidity and mortality related to
mental and substance use disorders, and the wider societal
impact they produce, it's important to know how much
the Nation is investing in prevention and treatment of
these disorders and to what extent prevention and treatment
are having an impact in producing change.
A new report from SAMHSA, National
Expenditures for Mental Health Services and Substance
Abuse Treatment, 1991-2001, highlights the fact
that over the last 10 years an increasing share of the
payment for mental health and substance abuse treatment
comes from public sources such as local, state, and Federal
government, with Medicaid playing an increasingly prominent
role. (See SAMHSA News,
Public Spending for Mental Health, Substance Abuse Treatment
In fact, for mental health services, Medicaid's spending
is growing faster than that of any other payer. As a
result, it has become the largest payer of mental health
services in the Nation. State and local dollars grew
fastest for substance abuse spending.
With private sources paying an increasingly small percentage
of these costs, it's clear that the public sector is
now the major financial driver.
Simultaneously, SAMHSA has embarked on a strategy to
obtain the data needed to measure and manage the performance
of our programs that provide services for substance abuse
and mental health. Working in cooperation with states
and focusing on a handful of carefully selected National
Outcome Measures, SAMHSA will be able to monitor client
outcomes and help direct improvements within the service
delivery system. SAMHSA News will carry an in-depth
article on the National Outcome Measures in the next
Why is it so critical for us to track trends and outcomes?
Budget makers and financial payers are increasingly basing
funding decisions on outcome data. This is true within
all sectorsFederal, state, local, and private.
It's no longer enough to show evidence of a need; we
must be able to demonstrate results in order to assure
funding for the services that we know work. That's public
Developing a clearer understanding of trends and outcomes
is especially important right now, as SAMHSA leads the
Administration's initiatives to transform the Nation's
mental health services system, expand people's access
to substance abuse treatment, and incorporate efforts
to prevent substance abuse and promote mental health
in community programs.
With these goals, it is imperative that we track expenditures
and outcomes from prevention and treatment efforts. This
information will inform us as we continue to improve
access and quality of care and offer hope to the people
Charles G. Curie, M.A., A.C.S.W.
« See Also—Previous
AlsoNext Article »
Back to Top