Integration of Care Is About Money Too: The Health and Behavior Codes as an Element of a New Financial Paradigm

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Collaboration between behavioral health and medicine and integration of behavioral health as part of non psychiatric medicine has been a difficult task. Part of the difficulty has been a lack of fit between the financial models for coding and reimbursement that behavioral health and medicine is governed by. Because of this lack of fit, the tensions between the clinical, administrative, and financial worlds (Patterson, Peek, Heinrich, Bischoff, & Scherger, 2002) have often been contentious and have limited the progress of collaboration and integration. Recently, a set of billing codes known as the health and behavior codes were proposed by the American Psychological Association and approved by the American Medical Association. Although reimbursement of these codes has been mixed, there have been slowly increasing indicators of acceptance of the codes. This article describes the evolution of the codes, their implications, and limitations and ends with discussion of a strategy to move acceptance forward as a method of assisting the evolution of integrated behavioral health and medical care.

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