New York, NY – November 21, 2023MetroPlusHealth, New York City’s high-quality and affordable health plan, today announced significant positive patient outcomes two years after its successful completion of insourcing behavioral health (BH) services. The program outperforms the New York State average by 6 points for expeditious outpatient follow-up care of individuals admitted for substance use. The new model makes it easier for the health plan to identify, monitor, and partner with its members and providers to successfully treat their physical and mental health needs and their social determinants, the non-medical factors that influence health outcomes. The MetroPlusHealth BH model also includes peer support, where support workers share similar lived experiences of being diagnosed with mental health conditions, substance use disorders, or both. Studies have shown that mutuality, often called “peerness,” promotes connection and inspires hope. “Peers” supplement treatment by addressing social determinants of health such as housing, food insecurity, and employment. MetroPlusHealth staff, part of the largest BH provider in New York State – NYC Health + Hospitals – provides both behavioral health and medical benefits to its more than 750,000 members. 

“Mental health is critically important, and we need to prioritize mental health care just as much as we do physical health,” said Talya Schwartz, MD, President & CEO, MetroPlusHealth.  “Even though the health care system is strained, as our City’s health plan, it is our responsibility to help bridge the gaps in the system. By bringing the service in-house, we transformed our BH model into one that is comprehensive and coordinated with our valued behavioral health providers. Today marks the two-year milestone of this remarkable transformation.”  

“Data suggests that our in-house behavioral health care model can be a model for the state. We rapidly improved the expeditious outpatient follow-up care of individuals admitted for substance use. We went from below statewide average (SWA) in 2021 to outperforming the SWA in 2022 by 6 points,” added Sanjiv Shah, MD and Chief Medical Director, MetroPlusHealth. “Our in-house BH model makes it easier for us to identify, monitor, and partner with our members and providers efficiently enabling us to successfully treat their physical and mental health needs, and their social determinants, as well. It’s extraordinary!” 

In October, 2021 MetroPlusHealth moved its behavioral health services back under the health plan’s umbrella to streamline the delivery of comprehensive health care. This integrated behavioral health program includes onsite mental health professionals at substance use disorder (SUD) facilities. By being onsite, MetroPlusHealth mental health professionals can collaborate with providers to ensure adherence to a post-discharge plan. The BH program also includes community-based mental health support. Licensed mental health professionals help members connect with a network of providers and members are treated by culturally responsive, community-based organizations and health care providers.  

As New York City continues to recover from the pandemic, the demand for mental health services has surged, surpassing the available supply. Encouragingly, the stigma attached to mental health has decreased considerably over the last few years. MetroPlusHealth’s Third Annual Healthy People Survey, found that 3 out of 4 New Yorkers (73%) agree talking to a mental health professional would positively impact their life.  Additionally, 63% of New Yorkers believe that good health can only happen if people have good housing, according to the survey.   

“Our in-house behavioral health department provides crucial support to high risk, homeless members, who often have significant mental health and substance use disorders, alongside complex medical conditions. Our housing task force actively connects at-risk members with permanent housing solutions,” said Karen Lenard, LCSW, Vice President, Behavioral Health, MetroPlusHealth. “Since the program started, we have found permanent housing for over 550 MetroPlusHealth members.”  

“At MetroPlusHealth, we are proud of our unwavering commitment to accessible behavioral health for all. We identified a challenge and decided to tackle it internally with the goal of positive transformation and lasting improvement for all New Yorkers. We take great satisfaction in all the work we have done and continue to do” said Talya Schwartz, MD, President & CEO, MetroPlusHealth. 


About MetroPlusHealth
Since 1985, MetroPlusHealth has helped the people of New York City get quality health care at little to no cost. MetroPlusHealth is the plan of choice for over 700,000 New Yorkers, and its commercial and government-sponsored plans meet the needs of individuals, families, and workforces. The MetroPlusHealth staff speaks more than 40 languages and is as diverse as the great City it serves. MetroPlusHealth is part of NYC Health + Hospitals, the nation’s largest public health system. For more information, visit Join the conversation on social media at @metroplushealth. 

NYC Opinion Survey Methodology 

This Geo CARAVAN survey was conducted online by Big Village among a sample of 1,005 residents in the New York City MSA 18 years of age and older. This survey was live on September 26-October 1, 2023. 

About Big Village
Big Village Insights is a global research and analytics business uncovering not just the ‘what’ but the ‘why’ behind customer behavior, supporting clients’ insights needs with agile tools, CX research, branding, product innovation, data & analytics, and more. Big Village Insights is part of Bright Mountain Media. Find out more at 

last updated: November 21, 2023

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