Boston – February 27, 2013 – Building on the Patrick-Murray Administration’s efforts to increase mental health awareness, effectiveness and affordability, the Group Insurance Commission recently selected Boston-based Beacon Health Strategies as the new mental health carrier for many state and municipal employees and retirees.  Beacon’s approach to behavioral health encourages better coordination of behavioral and medical care by pairing Beacon staff with health plan care managers.  This strategy is consistent with the recently enacted Health Care Cost Containment law, a cornerstone of the Administration’s efforts to improve patient care and population health while lowering per capita costs.  

“Massachusetts and the GIC continue to raise the bar in delivering high quality affordable care,” said Glen Shor, Secretary of Administration and Finance. “This selection is just one more example of the Patrick-Murray Administration’s commitment to promoting better health based on coordinated care and innovative approaches to behavioral health.”

Over 255,000 insureds and family members in the GIC’s UniCare state plans, Tufts Health Plan Navigator and Tufts Health Plan Sprit will receive their mental health benefits through Beacon effective July 1, 2013.  Members will have no change in benefits, copays or deductibles.  Beacon replaces United Behavioral Health, which has served as the GIC’s behavioral health vendor since 1998.  Beacon will also conduct outreach to members and their current providers to avoid care disruption and participate in the GIC’s health fairs and other annual enrollment activities beginning the second week of April.  

“Beacon’s unique approach will mean integrated and coordinated care for our members,” said Dolores L. Mitchell, the GIC’s Executive Director.  “Their clinicians will be working closely with our health plans especially focusing on members suffering from serious medical conditions, such as cancer and diabetes.  This will help with early identification of members that might need emotional assistance so that they get the care they need.”  

One-third of patients living with chronic medical conditions suffer from behavioral health problems, complicating medical care, according to a 2010 World Federation for Mental Health conference.  By better integration of behavioral health benefits with the GIC’s medical carriers, under-diagnosed mental health issues will be identified earlier, enabling more timely and effective treatment.

Established in 1996, Beacon is a behavioral health care management leader covering 8.2 million members, including members of Fallon Community Health Plan and Neighborhood Health Plan, two of the GIC’s health plans.

The GIC was established by the Legislature in 1955 to provide health, life, and other benefits to state employees, retirees, and their dependents. The GIC also covers housing and redevelopment authorities' personnel, participating municipalities, and retired municipal employees and teachers in certain governmental units.  There are currently over 220,000 members and 400,000 lives covered by the GIC.  A seventeen-member commission representing labor, retirees, municipal management, the public interest, the Administration, and expertise in health economics governs the GIC.

This information provided by the Group Insurance Commission.