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Behavioral Health and the COVID-19 Budget Crunch

A COVID-19 budget crunch is coming, but what will it look like? The Great Recession significantly reduced government revenue and expenditures; behavioral health budgets were cut. But those cuts were blunted by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). Current projections suggest the COVID-19 economic downturn will hit government revenue harder than the Great Recession. Reductions in government expenditures are likely to follow, and cuts to behavioral health services may be deep this time without ACA- and ARRA-like provisions. This brief examines the equivalent fiscal elements of the Great Recession to explore the potential effects of the COVID-19 economic downturn on behavioral health services.