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J Gerontol Soc Work. 2011 Apr;54(3):309-24. doi: 10.1080/01634372.2010.540075.

Integrating mental health parity for homebound older adults under the medicare home health care benefit.

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School of Social Policy & Practice; and New Courtland Center for Transitions and Health, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.


Despite high rates of mental illness, very few homebound older adults receive treatment. Comorbid mental illness exacerbates physical health conditions, reduces treatment adherence, and increases dependency and medical costs. Although effective treatments exist, many home health agencies lack capacity to effectively detect and treat mental illness. This article critically analyzes barriers within the Medicare home health benefit that impede access to mental health treatment. Policy, practice, and research recommendations are made to integrate mental health parity in home health care. In particular, creative use of medical social work can improve detection and treatment of mental illness for homebound older adults.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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