Substance Abuse and Mental Health:

Reauthorization Issues Facing the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

T-HEHS-97-135: Published: May 22, 1997. Publicly Released: May 22, 1997.

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GAO discussed the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's (SAMHSA) role in: (1) coordinating its efforts with federal agencies involved in related research or services; (2) measuring the results of its programs or activities, particularly in light of the fact that most of its funds are used to support services provided by states and local grantees; and (3) monitoring the impact of the transition to managed health care on individuals with mental disorders and substance abuse problems.

GAO noted that: (1) SAMHSA faces three important challenges in the current environment; (2) given the many different, yet related, federal agency activities in the areas of substance abuse and mental health, it is especially important that SAMHSA communicate and coordinate its efforts with agencies involved in similar or complementary activities; (3) under the Government Performance and Results Act, SAMHSA will have to show that its funds are used efficiently and effectively; (4) this will present a particular challenge for the agency because most of its funds are used to support services provided by states and local grantees; (5) the move to managed care in the private and public sectors affords potential opportunities to improve the coordination of care, yet it has risks given the financial pressures to control costs and health plans limited experience in setting capitation rates for mental health and substance abuse services; and (6) these are issues that deserve SAMHSA's careful attention.

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