May is Mental Health Awareness Month: An Important Message From Kaiser Permanente

South San Francisco, CA  May 2, 2023  by John Skerry, MD, Physician in Chief, Kaiser Permanente South San Francisco

May is Mental Health Awareness Month

A pandemic-era law that kept children and adults continuously covered by Medicaid will gradually end beginning April 1, 2023. Afterwards, people enrolled in Medicaid will be at greater risk of losing health coverage including vital mental health services.


Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) touch the lives of over 90 million low-income individuals and enrollment has grown more than 27% (or 9.9 million more individuals) since the beginning of the pandemic.


Since the continuous coverage provision ended on April 1, many people enrolled in these programs will need to re-enroll or transition to new coverage options – a process called the renewal process, also known as redetermination or recertification.


As the process unfolds across states, we will monitor and assess its impacts. With this in mind, here are five Medicaid trends we’re watching in 2023.


Millions of people rely on Medicaid to receive important and timely whole-person care, and the renewal process will present an opportunity to ensure continuity of coverage for all patients. In 2023, let’s reaffirm our commitment to providing high-quality, affordable, and comprehensive health care coverage for our country’s most vulnerable citizens.


An organization Kaiser Permanente is partnering with is the National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI). This organization created a resource with tips for helping people ensure they have continued access to health insurance and mental health services during this “unwinding period.”


NAMI started as a small group of families gathered around a kitchen table in 1979. NAMI has blossomed into the nation’s leading voice on mental health. Today, they are an alliance of more than 600 local affiliates who work in our communities to raise awareness and provide support and education that was not previously available to those in need.


We provided a grant to NAMI California that will help grow its mental health services and programs. This $2.3 million grant from a Kaiser Permanente fund at the East Bay Community Foundation is helping NAMI California strengthen its 56 local affiliates by providing program management, professional development, assistance for affiliate leaders, advocacy training, and human resources support. {more info on Kaiser’s grant to NAMI CLICK HERE}


“NAMI California has a presence throughout our state; however, the capacity of an individual affiliate to provide support and services is reliant on the individual affiliates’ staffing, budget, and strategic goals,” NAMI California CEO Jessica Cruz said. “Thanks to the Kaiser Permanente support, we will now be able to build our affiliates the resources they need to grow and provide a spectrum of mental health services in our communities.”


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