The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) has dramatically changed the health care landscape, creating new opportunities to advance health promotion, prevention, and treatment for children, parents, and families. However, the programmatic and funding landscape for children’s behavioral health following implementation of the ACA largely remains siloed, as policy makers and industry stakeholders are focused broadly on the uninsured and reforming payment and delivery systems.
To see how the ACA has impacted children’s behavioral health, we explored several programs in both governmental and nongovernmental organizations from various vantage points of the health care system. We were able to identify areas where further programmatic or funding support was necessary to advance children’s cognitive and behavioral health, and from this scan, three key themes emerged:
- The ACA’s Coverage Expansion: The coverage expansion potentially increases access to behavioral health care for adults and children, but the impact has been hard to assess.
- Movement to Value-Based Payment: Health reform catalyzed the movement to value-based payment, which can be built on to advance children’s behavioral health, including in the context of prevention.
- Population Health: Payers and providers are deploying population health strategies to promote prevention in support of population health and to manage high-cost, high-need subpopulations, making behavioral health a logical focus for these efforts.
This paper explores the impact of these three themes on children’s development, behavioral health, including in the context of prevention, and ends each section on the themes with key takeaways and insights. The paper then concludes with a synthesis and review of high-level opportunities for the children’s behavioral health community to engage with stakeholders to advance child and family health and development.