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March 20, 2020
Advancing Puglic Policies for people with Mental Illness, Substance Use Disorder and/or Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities
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Francine Sinkoff, Editor

Healing Springs Family Support Services update during COVID-19 interim - Saratoga

Stabilization Center going to 'phone only' service - Dutchess

Columbia County is Hiring: Director of Community Services

Columbia County is searching for a highly skilled individual responsible for the oversight of the Columbia County Department of Human Services, its services and the provision of a comprehensive mental hygiene system of services. In addition, the Director will serve on the Community Services Board and its' three (3) subcommittees: Mental Health, Alcohol and Substance Abuse, and Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities. The Director works under the general supervision of the Community Services Board and the County Board of Supervisors' Health and Medical Committee. 

Click here for the full job description.
CVS Melds Opioid Support Into Social Determinants Network
CVS Pharmacy, pharmacist counter, pick up consultation window
CVS Health is melding a program designed to help those who've suffered an opioid overdose into its widening effort to address social determinants of health.

The effort by CVS Health and its Aetna health insurance unit comes as insurers roll out strategies to move into their communities and beyond the doctor's office to reduce costs and improve outcomes.

In this case, CVS is working to bolster Aetna's "Guardian Angel" program initially in North Carolina where it will be supported by Unite Us, a social care coordination platform that uses its technology to connect healthcare and providers of social services. Financial terms of the partnership weren't disclosed, but it's expected to eventually be expanded given Aetna's Guardian Angel program is nationwide. Read more here.
Healthcare Analytics Firm Jvion Launched an AI-Powered Tool for Addressing Social Determinants of Health
Jvion debuts AI-powered social determinants of health technology
The Georgia-based healthcare analytics company introduced a system that identifies socioeconomic hurdles affecting patient health and steers its hospital clients toward programs to invest in that could help boost health outcomes,  per  Healthcare IT News.

The system is built on Microsoft's cloud and was crafted to help clinicians offer personalized treatment plans to address patients' social determinants of health (SDOH) - factors like income and food access that drive  the lion's share of health outcomes. It also helps healthcare organizations allocate resources into partnerships that can effectively address common issues among their patient populations. Read more here.

5 Tips for Staying Productive and Mentally Healthy While You're Working From Home

Failure to address coronavirus mental health issues will prolong impact

Mental Health America Reports Severe Anxiety Screening Results Related To COVID-19 Now Top 1,000

The hellish side of handwashing: how coronavirus is affecting people with OCD

Working harder in anxious times, mental health providers getting paid less for safer service

Researchers report substantial advances in detection, prognosis of individuals at clinical high risk for psychosis

Researchers identify risk and protective factors for childhood suicidality

Single joint linked with temporary psychiatric symptoms, review finds

Life expectancy crisis in the USA: The opioid crisis is not the decisive factor

Reducing Access Disparities in Mental Health Treatment with Technology
March 23, 12 - 1 pm, CTAC/MCTAC

Adherence & The Role For New Technologies
March 24, 12 - 1 pm, PsychU

Community-Based Organizations: Partnership Opportunities to Address SDOH
March 24, 12:30 - 2 pm, Manatt Health

SOAR and Criminal Justice System Implementation
March 25, 3 - 4 pm, SAMHSA

Taking on the Challenge of Working Remotely and in Community during the Virus Crisis
March 26, 12 - 1 pm, NYAPRS
Using PSYCKES Quality Indicator Reports
March 26, 2 - 3 pm, OMH

School Safety and Collaboration: Building a Behavioral Health and Justice Response
March 26, 2 - 3:30 pm, CSG Justice Center

WHAM: Newest Research and Updated Curriculum for Peer Support for Whole Health
March 26, 3 - 4 pm, National Council for Behavioral Health

Peer Recovery Support Series, Section I: Building a Successful Culture in Your Organization
March 27, 12 - 1:30 pm, NAADAC

What's Next? The Value of Evidence from the Camden Coalition and CareMore Health to Inform Complex Care Program Design
March 31, 1 - 2 pm, National Center for Complex Health and Social Needs

Peer Services: Peer Providers Offer Understanding, Respect, Mutual Empowerment, and Support to Others Through Use of Their Personal Experiences
March 31, 1 - 2:30 pm, Mental Health Technology Transfer Center Network

Addressing Youth Substance Use at the County Level Through Policy and Practice
March 31, 3 - 4 pm, National Association of Counties

Justice Center Code of Conduct Training
Various locations, Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs

April 7, 12 - 1 pm, PsychU

April 7, 1 - 2:30 pm, Mental Health Technology Transfer Center Network

Connecting the Continuum: How Prevention & Recovery Models Fit Together
April 8, 3 - 4 pm, NAADAC

Peer Recovery Support Series, Section II: Hiring, Onboarding, and Integration
April 10, 12 - 1:30 pm, NAADAC

Peer Recovery Support Series, Section III: Understanding the Pathway and the Process
April 15, 3 - 5 pm, NAADAC

Opioids and Child Maltreatment: Neighborhood Factors To Protect Families
April 16, 1 - 2 pm, Child Maltreatment National Peer Learning Team

April 20, 12 - 1 pm, PsychU

Fostering Partnerships and Collaborations across the Sequential Intercept Model (SIM)
April 30, 2:30 - 4 pm, SAMHSA's GAINS Center


APRIL 2020

Mental Hygiene Planning Committee Meeting
April 7: 1 - 3 pm, GTM

Children & Families Committee Meeting
April 21: 11:30 am - 1 pm, GTM

Contact CLMHD for all Call In and Go To Meeting information, 518.462.9422 
Medicaid Redesign Team Proposal Shows How it Would Achieve $2.5B in Savings

The Medicaid redesign team has come up with $2.5 billion in savings proposals that would affect every corner of the health care industry, including hospitals, insurers, long-term-care providers and pharmacists, according to an  executive summary obtained by Crain's.

The plan is due to be discussed at a meeting of the MRT today, and the documents did not specify whether the measures had been approved by the group.

The proposals add more than $1.6 billion in cost-cutting programs to the governor's existing $851 million savings plan for fiscal 2021, which begins April 1.

They include an additional $219 million across-the-board Medicaid payment reduction to health care providers, which, when added to the governor's previously announced reduction, will result in a $467 million rate drop, according to a  budget scorecard tallying the savings.

The largest targeted cut is related to long-term care, which will see $674 million in payment reductions across home care and nursing home programs. Read more here.

OMH and OASAS Announce Additional
Measures to Help Stop the Spread of COVID-19

The New York State Office of Mental Health (OMH) and the Office of Addiction Services and Supports (OASAS) announced new measures to help stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus and ensure that New Yorkers have safe access to the mental health and addiction treatment services they need. Streamlining the approval process and regulations governing telehealth services will quickly allow more healthcare providers to utilize the practice for the duration of the of the COVID-19 emergency.

By waiving sections of OMH regulations, Part 596, and OASAS regulations, Part 830, the agencies will be able to quickly approve the use of telehealth to deliver mental health services and addiction treatment. Read more here.

Additional telehealth guidance:

Supplemental Guidance - Use of Telehealth for OMH-funded programs - March 19_ 2020
NYS Adopts Emergency Regulation Requiring Insurance Companies to Waive Co-pay for Telehealth Visits

The Department of Financial Services (DFS) on Tuesday announced it has adopted a new emergency regulation under New York Insurance Law requiring New York State insurance companies to waive cost-sharing, including, deductibles, copayments (copays), or coinsurance for in-network telehealth visits. Telehealth is the use of electronic information and communication technologies by a health care provider to deliver health care services to an insured while an insured is located at a site that is different from the site where the health care provider is located.

Following DFS' regulatory action, state health agencies released respective guidance letters for consistent regulatory requirements for telehealth services to ensure that there are no regulatory barriers to telehealth visits for the insured and providers.

The new adopted emergency regulation follows  Governor Cuomo's announcement on Saturday, March 14th, 2020 
that DFS will require insurance companies to waive co-pays for telehealth visits, whether or not related to coronavirus (COVID-19).  Read more here .

Additional article of interest:  OCR Announces Notification of Enforcement Discretion for Telehealth Remote Communications During the COVID-19 Nationwide Public Health Emergency
Surge in Patients Overwhelms Telehealth Services Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

Telehealth services are sagging under the weight of an unprecedented surge in patients as hospitals scramble to shift routine care online in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The crisis is stressing major telehealth providers' technical infrastructure and the supply of physicians prepared to deliver care virtually.

Over the last week, a sudden explosion of demand has slammed into hospitals used to delivering telehealth consults for only a handful of patients a day. Clinicians and telehealth companies,  initially thrilled with the uptick in business, are now faced with huge backlogs, several providers and company executives told STAT.

"You can get the technology to support these astounding volumes," said Roy Schoenberg, the CEO of the Boston-based telemedicine company American Well. "But you're very quickly getting to a point where the supply of medical services isn't there. We need to have enough clinicians to allow us to handle that incoming volume." Read more here.
Responding to Pandemic Coronavirus: Population Panic and Assuring Mental Health and Substance Use Services

Mitigating population panic and assuring the delivery of mental health and substance use services will be essential to reduce the severe disruptions associated with the secondary effects of the pandemic coronavirus (COVID-19). Under the best potential scenario, COVID-19 will have widespread primary effects leading to increased morbidity and mortality, as well as secondary effects leading to disruption of our economy, education, health and community institutions. Both the primary and secondary effects will be greatly exacerbated without appropriate planning to mitigate and control population panic and to assure availability and delivery of mental health and substance use services to those experiencing severe loss or incapacity of family members, friends, neighbors, and community leaders, as well as those consumers requiring continuity of therapeutic and pharmacy services.

The following are six strategies that need to be taken now to plan, develop and implement mechanisms to address these issues. 

Strategy 1: Mitigate panic in the population
Begin immediately to plan and implement a strategy to mitigate and control panic in the population.  A major causal factor leading to population panic is lack of access to timely, accurate and helpful information on the current state of affairs. Hence, planning is needed right now regarding how accurate information will be developed and then communicated by national, state and local health officials to the broadcast, print and digital media that operate in each of these venues.  Read more here .
SAMHSA: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

COVID-19 Public Health Emergency Response and 42 CFR Part 2 Guidance

In response to the Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) pandemic, SAMHSA is providing COVID-19 Public Health Emergency Response and 42 CFR Part 2 guidance to ensure that substance use disorder treatment services are uninterrupted during this public health emergency. Learn more here.

FAQs for Opioid Use Disorder Prescribing and Dispensing in the COVID-19 Emergency

In response to the Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) pandemic, SAMHSA is providing answers to Frequently Asked Questions regarding the provision of methadone and buprenorphine for the treatment of Opioid Use Disorder for new and existing patients. Learn more here
Center for Connected Health Policy Posts Live Updated Telehealth Coverage Policies in the Time of COVID-19 

As things rapidly develop on both what we know about COVID-19, policies around telehealth have also been developing alongside of it. The Center for Connected Health Policy (CCHP) has produced a  fact sheet which includes a summary of what is covered by various public and private payers with the information that has been released. Keep in mind that events are evolving - this is a living document that could change frequently as new information and new policies become available/are enacted. Visit for more information.
A Psychologist's Science-Based Tips for Emotional Resilience During the Coronavirus Crisis

As the news about the coronavirus pandemic becomes grimmer, and governments and businesses issue closing or work-from-home directives, many of us are experiencing a variety of negative emotions. We feel anxiety in response to the uncertainty of the situation; sadness related to losing our daily sources of meaning and joy; and anger at whatever forces are to blame for bringing this upon us. As a psychologist, I believe following evidence-based recommendations for bolstering mental resilience can help us weather this crisis.

It's normal to be unsettled and concerned about the upending of life as we know it. "Humans find comfort and safety in the predictability of the routines of daily living," said John Forsyth, a professor of psychology at the University at Albany in New York and co-author of " Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Anxiety Disorders." As our lives have dramatically changed overnight, many are struggling with finding ways to deal with the new reality. Read more here.
Got Gatorade? And Other Plans For Business In The Era Of COVID-19 
On a personal level, everyone is making changes during the coronavirus-driven national emergency. No gatherings, lots of hand washing, and stocking up. (After watching the video interview with one of the cruise ship passengers in quarantine, I stocked up on Gatorade, the treatment of choice.) But if you are managing a specialty provider organization, there are other concerns. What's keeping some of the executives in the field up at night right now? Providing uninterrupted care to those in need while ensuring the safety of staff and reimbursement for services, dealing with staff shortages, considering the needs of special groups of consumers, and planning for decline in revenue because of cancellations.

Most management teams are likely to be in some stage of emergency planning. The leadership team at Monarch in North Carolina spent the entire weekend, March 14 and 15, refining their emergency operations plan but it continues to change by the minute, said Chief Executive Officer Peggy Terhune, Ph.D. From shortage of masks to planning for quick temperature checks in the parking lot to screen for coronavirus, the organization had to grapple with unprecedented situations. As reports of the number of coronavirus cases across the country escalated on March 16, Monarch decided to close its outpatient offices and move all services to telehealth and telephonic.

For others, continuing to provide care without exposing staff and consumers to undue risk of the coronavirus is a primary concern. Read more here.
Coronavirus on the Inpatient Unit: A New Challenge for Psychiatry

For weeks now, the coronavirus epidemic has monopolized the media. As cases of COVID-19 have crossed borders and then oceans, the pandemic has caused fear and anxiety as Americans struggle with the uncertain nature of this highly contagious disease. Those exposed may be infectious before they are symptomatic, and the expression of the virus varies greatly: Some people have a mild illness and others quickly progress to severe pulmonary disease with a bilateral interstitial pneumonia that requires intubation and respiratory support. 

In the last week, the pandemic has resulted in a tremendous disruption to American life as people who fear they may have been exposed self-quarantine, and everything from Disneyland to the National Basketball Association has shut down. Universities are sending students home, medical conferences and religious services are being canceled. Hospitals are preparing for a surge of admissions, and we worry that the need for intensive care will overwhelm our system. Our lack of ability to test for the virus has left us particularly vulnerable. Morbidity and mortality rates have been particularly high in the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions.

COVID-19 represents a new challenge for the inpatient psychiatry unit. Read more here.
The Conference of Local Mental Hygiene Directors advances public policies and awareness for people with mental illness, chemical dependency and developmental disabilities.  We are a statewide membership organization that consists of the Commissioner/ Director of each of the state's 57 county mental hygiene departments and the mental hygiene department of the City of New York.