Expanded Partnerships to Increase Access to Telemental Health Coverage for Medicare, Medicaid Beneficiaries


These partnerships aim to address the mental health needs of underserved populations, including individuals with clinical depression, anxiety, and mood disorders.

Rix Pix_AdobeStock

Rix Pix_AdobeStock

Brightside Health, a mental health care services provider, has announced expanded partnerships with several payers to increase access to telemental health coverage for individuals who are covered under Medicaid and Medicare. These partnerships will aim to address the mental health needs of underserved populations, including individuals with clinical depression, anxiety, and mood disorders.1

The new developments announced today include1:

  • CareOregon announced the creation of a new contract to serve Medicaid beneficiaries.
  • Blue Shield of California announced a new contract to serve Medicare Advantage enrollees.
  • Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas announced an expanded contract to include Medicare Advantage coverage.
  • Traditional Medicare announced the expansion of coverage to include several states, including Texas, California, Delaware, Arizona, New York, and Washington.
  • Centene announced the expansion of coverage state-by-state, including Nebraska Total Care Medicaid and Wellcare Medicare Advantage.

These partnerships seek to improve access to psychiatric services, therapy, and crisis care programs for individuals with elevated suicide risk.1

“We are continuously seeking ways to improve the lives of our members, and Brightside Health’s telemental health platform enhances psychiatric service accessibility, particularly for individuals who need access to high-quality medication services and urgent care for individuals with suicidal thoughts,” said Adam Proctor, plan president and CEO at Nebraska Total Care, a subsidiary of Centene Corporation, in a press release.

The focus on assisting individuals in need of urgent care for suicidal thoughts is particularly timely, as suicide rates reached an all-time high in 2022, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).2

Research has also highlighted the prevalence of mental health issues among Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, underscoring the pressing need for quality mental health care services.1 According to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), among the 65 million Americans currently enrolled in Medicare, 25% have at least 1 mental illness and 40% have higher-than-average rates of substance use disorders (SUDs).3 Also, in fall 2023, a report from the Commonwealth Fund4 reported that Medicare patients often:

  • Live in poverty
  • Are underinsured
  • Skip or delay medical care
  • Cannot afford their premiums, medical bills, and debts
  • Use their savings or credit cards to pay their bills
  • Cannot afford non-medical necessities such as rent, food, and heat

“No mental health platform is complete without addressing the needs of Medicaid and Medicare beneficiaries, and these partnerships will provide access to life-saving mental health care for millions more people,” said Brad Kittredge, cofounder and CEO of Brightside Health, in a press release.

“We are scaling quickly to ensure access to high-quality, measurably better mental health treatment. The momentum and interest continue to build, and we’re thrilled to partner with these esteemed organizations across the country and share their commitment to expand exceptional mental health care options.”

Stay up-to-date on news related to research on promising new interventions and developments in the treatment of a wide variety of psychiatric disorders at psychiatrictimes.com.

Note: This article was prepared with the assistance of ChatGPT.


1. Brightside Health expands Medicaid & Medicare access for greater telemental health coverage. BusinessWire. February 21, 2024. Accessed February 21, 2024. https://finance.yahoo.com/news/brightside-health-expands-medicaid-medicare-140100431.html?guccounter=1&guce_referrer=aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cuZ29vZ2xlLmNvbS8&guce_referrer_sig=AQAAAGcopZGSYSM1oQIeELPM_Lg631f8U4gwOBbKustlXiTGTYK2neKSthsZ5MoNofHdtYyJXUPS80cTnnSI9h6rFikxhgGT_4P2i7s6oQOFIKxjZ3c9Nv3yAySJTpwSqQZkHNOCqb6-T_oHhtI8qomTHZqlZuMvZDzCiK23Ixh_iVrH

2. O’Brien E, Balfour M. Addressing suicide and other mental health crises with 988. Psychiatric Times. January 24, 2024. Accessed February 21, 2024. https://www.psychiatrictimes.com/view/addressing-suicide-and-other-mental-health-crises-with-988

3. Innovation in behavioral health (IBH) model. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Accessed February 21, 2024. https://www.cms.gov/priorities/innovation/innovation-models/innovation-behavioral-health-ibh-model#:~:text=A%20quarter%20of%20all%20people,than%20average%20rates%20of%20SUD

4. Lutton L, Shyrock T. Your Medicare patients are struggling. Psychiatric Times. November 15, 2023. Accessed February 21, 2024. https://www.psychiatrictimes.com/view/your-medicare-patients-are-struggling

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