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Study Says Children At Increased Risk Of Suicide After Medicaid Change

A study of more than 2,000 children in Missouri whose coverage switched from traditional Medicaid to managed-care organizations or MCOs, found suicide risk among them nearly doubled.

The Missouri Hospital Association study analyzed a group between the ages of five and 19 whose coverage switched after the state expanded MCOs in 2017.

The study’s lead author Mat Reidhead said one major factor seems to be how long kids spend in hospitals – MCO-covered children were discharged quicker.

"Our data definitely suggest that there’s an association between the levels of inpatient psychiatric care and then his or her chance of returning to a hospital within 90 days," Reidhead said. 

Reidhead added that the MCO expansion in 2017 affected the coverage of more than 150,000 children. 

Missouri Healthnet Director Todd Richardson said in a statement, "Moving forward we will continue to engage with mental health experts to review the data contained in the report, and also to look at the factors that were not considered in the report such as access to follow-up care, medication compliance, and variance in outcomes by specific facility.”

He added, “We welcome collaborative conversations on how to address these problems, but cannot let those conversations devolve into finger pointing."

Copyright 2020 KBIA. To see more, visit .

Sebastián Martinez is a reporter and documentary filmmaker who produces KBIA's Missouri Environment program. Sebastián got his bachelor's degree in broadcast journalism from the University of Missouri and is currently pursuing a graduate degree in documentary journalism at the same institution. His interests include nature, conservation and science.

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