More mentally ill patients are checking into hospitals: study
July 26, 2017 | By Carl Campanile
The No. 1 reason people are being admitted to the city’s municipal hospitals is mental illness, according to a study released Wednesday.
The Independent Budget Office reported that mental problems accounted for 13 percent of all admissions to NYC Health + Hospitals facilities in 2014, the last year for which complete data was available.
The study also found that those admissions surged 20 percent between 2009 and 2014, from 20,550 to 24,050.
But over the same period voluntary hospitals saw their admissions for mental health patients drop by 5 percent.
The findings come as the city grapples with a record number of homeless, including many with mental illness.
There are more than 2,480 hospital beds dedicated to psychiatric patients spread out at 37 public and private hospitals across the city. Almost half are in public hospitals.
But just three city-run hospitals — Bellevue, Kings County and Elmhurst — account for 25 percent of all psych bed in the city.
Out of 4,730 beds in the public hospitals, almost 30 percent are now set aside for psych patients.
At the city’s private hospitals, only about 8 percent of the 19,090 beds are reserved for psych care.
As is often the case, the public hospitals are becoming the main medical provider of first and last resort for mentally ill New Yorkers, according to the report.
IBO spokesman Doug Turetsky said the Affordable Care Act, which was enacted during much of the time period and expanded coverage for behavioral health, may have contributed to the increase.
“Until ACA, a lot of health plans balked at providing coverage and with the expansion of Medicaid more people became eligible for coverage that included behavioral health. These newly eligible people may have gravitated towards mental health care at the public hospitals because that’s where it tended to be provided,” Turetsky said.
He also noted that nine private hospitals in the city closed from 2009 to 2014 and some of their patients may have shifted to the public hospitals.