Integrating behavioral health under an ACO global budget: barriers and progress in Oregon

Jason Kroening-Roché, Jennifer D. Hall, David C. Cameron, Ruth Rowland, Deborah J. Cohen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVES: This study describes challenges that coordinated care organizations (CCOs), a version of accountable care organizations, experienced when attempting to finance integrated care for Medicaid recipients in Oregon and the strategies they developed to address these barriers.

STUDY DESIGN: Cross-case comparative study.

METHODS: We conducted a cross-case comparative study of 5 diverse CCOs in Oregon. We interviewed key stakeholders: CCO leaders, practice leaders, and primary care and behavioral health clinicians. A multidisciplinary team analyzed data using an immersion-crystallization approach. Financial barriers to integrating care and strategies to address them emerged from this analysis. Findings were member-checked with a CCO integration workgroup to ensure wider applicability.

RESULTS: State legislation that initiated CCOs promoted integration expansion. CCOs, however, struggled to create sustainable funding mechanisms to support integration. This was due to regulatory and financial silos that persisted despite CCO global budget formation; concerns about actuarial soundness that limited reasonable, yet creative, uses of federal funds to support integration; and billing difficulties connected to licensing and documentation requirements for behavioral and mental health providers. Despite these barriers, CCOs, with the help of the state, supported expanding integrated care in primary care by using state funds to pilot test integration models and to promote alternative payment methodologies.

CONCLUSIONS: Oregon's CCO mandate included a focus on better integrating medical and behavioral healthcare for Medicaid recipients. Despite this intention, challenges exist in the financing of integration, many of which state and federal leaders can address through payment and regulatory reform.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e303-e309
JournalThe American journal of managed care
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy


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