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California to get funds for emergency psychiatric care

California will receive funds to expand emergency psychiatric care, part of a national push to get mentally ill patients out of hospital emergency rooms and into psychiatric facilities, the federal government announced this week.

The state will use the money to provide Medicaid reimbursements to private psychiatric hospitals for providing emergency care to patients ages 21 to 64. In the past, Medicaid could not reimburse for such care.

California is one of 11 states and the District of Columbia to receive the grants, which will total $75 million over three years.

Treating psychiatric patients in ERs is not an "efficient use of healthcare dollars, and may be detrimental to vulnerable patients," said Marilyn Tavenner, acting administrator of the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

The grants are part of the federal healthcare law and will test the effect of the new coverage on the quality of psychiatric care and the burden on ERs, according to the federal agency. 

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