The Louisiana Department of Health (DHH) announced today that it will integrate specialized behavioral health services into the benefits coordinated by Bayou Health plans for more than 920,000 Medicaid recipients. Currently, these services are provided separately in a program called the Louisiana Behavioral Health Partnership (LBHP). The Department will work with the five managed care organizations contracted to provide care to Louisiana's Medicaid recipients, as well as providers, recipients and stakeholders on the transition set for implementation on Dec. 1, 2015.

"I am so proud of the work that the Department has done over the last three years to better serve individuals with behavioral health needs in Louisiana," said LDH Secretary Kathy H. Kliebert. "It is important that we build upon those improvements and look ahead to the future of how care should be provided. One of our primary goals with Bayou Health is to create better coordination of care and we've long known that integrating behavioral health services with other acute care services was the right direction for our recipients.

"Our Bayou Health plans clearly have the national experience and local track record to build upon the successes of the LBHP and will continue to expand the provider network," said Medicaid Director Ruth Kennedy. "Health care providers and policy makers know that behavioral health needs have a tremendous impact on overall health outcomes and costs. Integrating responsibility for coordinating these services into one entity allows us to better manage an individual's care to promote improvements to both."

The Louisiana Behavioral Health Partnership was designed to better coordinate care provided to individuals in need of behavioral health services. Often mental health needs and addictive disorder needs are co-occurring, meaning individuals with one need also often have the other. Before the creation of the LBHP more than three years ago, fewer doctors, inpatient facilities and service providers were available to Louisiana residents whose services are reimbursed through Medicaid. The LBHP expanded access to providers by more than double - from 800, to 1,700 providers. There has also been an 87 percent increase in available inpatient beds since the LBHP was implemented.

"Integrating behavioral health care into the acute medical care for Medicaid recipients is the best way for us to serve Louisiana residents. We have to care for the individual as a whole person rather than compartmentalizing types of services by the provider type," said LDH Office of Behavioral Health Assistant Secretary Dr. Rochelle Head-Dunham said. "With careful planning and by working closely with our providers and advocacy organizations, I believe that coordinating care for primary, acute and behavioral health care needs of our residents will help us improve outcomes."

Rather than accept a bid for a new three year LBHP contract that would have begun March 1, 2015, LDH is fully integrating behavioral health services into Bayou Health effective Dec. 1, 2015. LDH is negotiating a shorter-term contract with the one entity that responded to the recent request for proposals (RFP), the current incumbent Magellan of Louisiana. That contract is expected to last for nine months while the transition occurs.

Over the next few weeks, the Department will name an advisory group of key stakeholders, including partner state agencies, local governing entities, providers, advocates and others to provide ongoing guidance and feedback as specific contract language for the addition of behavioral health services to Bayou Health is developed.

"It is important to me that we take our time to make sure this is a smooth transition for both members and providers with no interruption in care," said Kliebert. "With one full year before the integration is set to occur, we have time to seek and incorporate feedback from our own stakeholders in Louisiana as well as national best practices."

The LBHP is also responsible for coordinating behavioral health services for certain non-Medicaid populations. Between now and Dec. 1, 2015, the Department will work with input of the advisory group and other stakeholders to develop a smaller scope management arrangement for these services, which may result in a new RFP and contract. In addition to moving LBHP participants into Bayou Health, the state is planning the implementation of managed care for individuals with age-related or developmental disabilities through a system of managed long-term supports and services MLTSS). Those individuals who will receive supports and service through the planned MLTSS will also receive their behavioral health care needs through that network of managed care providers and coordinators.

Other new services and provider types available since the implementation of the LBHP, include:

  • Psychiatric residential treatment facilities, including 128 beds with 60 additional scheduled to open in the coming months;
  • Therapeutic group homes;
  • 250 new crisis intervention providers;
  • 29 providers of independent living skills;
  • Addiction disorder services, including all levels of residential care, counseling and intensive outpatient;
  • New outpatient therapy provider types such as family counselors and other licensed mental health professionals;
  • Evidence-based programs for youth such as functional family therapy and homebuilders; 
  • Behavioral health services provided by schools and school systems;
  • Wraparound services for youth at risk of out-of-home placement in the Coordinated System of Care (CSoC);
  • Family support for youth in the CsoC; and
  • Youth support for youth in the CsoC.

The Louisiana Department of Health strives to protect and promote health statewide and to ensure access to medical, preventive and rehabilitative services for all state citizens. To learn more about LDH, visit For up-to-date health information, news and emergency updates, follow LDH's Twitter account and Facebook.