Date of Conferral



Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.)




Kristen Chesser


Communities prosper when the mental health needs of community members are met, but unaddressed mental health problems can contribute to enormous social and economic cost. Behavioral health resources are integral to the successful mitigation of adverse implications associated with mental illness. This qualitative case study was conducted to determine if Medicaid expansion has provided benefits for individuals with behavioral health needs and if behavioral health providers have been able to continue to provide quality services, despite the increase in referrals. The organization identified for this study is located in the southeastern United States and is known for providing not only premier mental health skill-building services but also intensive in-home services. Primary data were obtained from semistructured interviews with 12 senior-level behavioral health staff from a single site. Results showed that the organization was not prepared for the influx of client referrals after Medicaid expansion and that the lack of preparation, partnerships, and community resources impacted the organization’s ability to make appropriate referrals to similar providers in the area for individuals seeking outpatient mental health services. Research on the impact of Medicaid expansion on private behavioral health agencies since enactment of the Affordable Care Act has been scant. This study may contribute to positive social change by encouraging organizations to be proactive in identifying breakdowns in keeping up with the demand for mental health services, building more partnerships with other private mental health agencies, and offering more streamlined training for behavioral health providers and/or organizations.