This issue brief examines reported capacity constraints in inpatient psychiatric services and describes how these services fit within the continuum of care for mental health treatment. The paper summarizes the type and range of acute care services used to intervene in mental health crises, including both traditional hospital-based services and alternative crisis interventions, such as mobile response teams. It reviews historical trends in the supply of inpatient psychiatric beds and explores the anticipated influence of prospective payment for inpatient psychiatric services under Medicare. The paper also considers other forces that may affect the need for and supply of acute mental health services, including key factors that could improve the quality and efficiency of inpatient psychiatric care.

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