Managed care organizations were almost unknown in the mental health arena two decades ago; now they dominate the financing and delivery of mental health services in both the public and private sectors. While this transformation has brought some hope of controlling costs and resources, many people — from policymakers and health care professionals to consumers and advocates — fear that access and quality have been sacrificed along the way. The counterbalance to these marketplace inequities is public intervention through mandates and regulation. These, in turn, require good information to guide policymakers and providers. But until recently there was little information about the impact of managed care on access and quality; the field of mental health did not have a forum for discussing its concerns about fairness and equity; and there had been virtually no research on the effectiveness and efficiency of mental health policies and services. In response to these concerns, the Foundation launched the Network on Mental Health Policy Research. Its charge is to develop a knowledge base linking mental health policies, financing, and organization to their effects on access to quality care.
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