A Fork in the Road: Decision Time for Behavioral Pediatrics

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The rapid growth of managed care, and especially that of managed behavioral healthcare organizations (MBHOs), is likely to diminish the role of developmental-behavioral pediatrics and separate care for medical and behavioral problems. Thus, a rethinking of the practice of developmental-behavioral pediatrics is required. This study reviews the structure of MBHOs, identifies barriers to the provision of services by developmental-behavioral pediatricians, describes alternative practice models for consideration, and makes recommendations. The aims of the recommendations are to stimulate an active discussion about these issues, spark an advocacy effort, and ensure the continued participation of developmental-behavioral pediatricians in the care of children with special needs. The study concludes that managed care will push developmental-behavioral pediatricians into integration with primary care group practices or into specialty mental health networks. Immediate discussion, action, and advocacy will be required to ensure a presence in these decisions for developmental-behavioral pediatricians.

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