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July 17 , 2020
CLICK HERE for Links to State Guidance and Updates on COVID-19
Advancing Public Policies for people with Mental Illness, Substance Use Disorder and/or Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities
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Francine Sinkoff, Editor
SAFE GC Coalition: ATLAS Website Resource for Addiction Treatment - Nassau

Broome County Sees Drop in Deadly Overdoses Despite Pandemic

'Concerning' number of opioid overdoses in Cayuga County prompts Narcan home delivery

As districts finalize reopening plans, leaders say focus is on mental, emotional health - Monroe
Early Data On Opioid Treatment During Pandemic Shows Promise

As the  city expands its recently launched methadone delivery program, new data from outside New York points to initial successes in the at-home treatment of opioid-use disorder.

Codac Behavioral Healthcare, the largest nonprofit outpatient provider for opioid treatment in Rhode Island, has focused on maintaining access to care during the Covid-19 crisis. The organization says results so far have been positive. Read more here.
OASAS Requests for Applications (RFA) - 2020 Targeted Mobile Treatment Vehicles and Telehealth Expansion

The NYS Office of Addiction Services and Supports has released the following RFAs under the State Opioid Response (SOR) grant:

OASAS will fund one provider in five Economic Development Zones to purchase and operate a mobile treatment vehicle with the primary purpose of expanding access to addiction treatment services in underserved regions of the state. Deadline is July 29, 5 pm.

OASAS will offer awards of up to $15,000 each in one-time funding to selected outpatient programs for the purchase of telepractice equipment and installation. Deadline is August 30, 5 pm.
Listen: A Look At Pandemic's Impact On Recovery For Alcoholism And Drug Addiction

People in recovery for alcoholism and drug addiction have been hit hard by challenges of social distancing. Laura Bratton shares how the pandemic has affected her recovery and her support system.

Psychiatrist: America's 'Extremely Punitive' Prisons Make Mental Illness Worse

Coronavirus: NIMHANS releases guidelines for health workers' mental health needs


July 22, 2 - 3 pm, SAMHSA's GAINS Center

July 22, 2 - 3 pm, National Council for Behavioral Health

July 22, 3 - 4 pm, NAADAC

July 22, 3 - 4:30 pm, PsychU

Enable Access to Client-Level Data in PSYCKES
July 23, 3 - 4 pm, OMH

A Trauma-informed Behavioral Health Care Approach to Advance Health Equity
July 27, 3 - 4 pm, HANYS

Data Sharing among Criminal Justice and Behavioral Health Partners: Mechanisms and Platforms for Efficient Data and Information Sharing
July 28, 12 - 1 pm, SAMHSA's GAINS Center

Strategic Planning: Implementing the CLAS Standards to Reduce Disparities in Behavioral Health Organizations
July 28, 1 - 2 pm, OMH

PSYCKES Mobile App for iPhones & iPads
July 29, 2 - 3 pm, OMH

July 29, 3 - 4 pm, National Council for Behavioral Health

Supporting Reentry for People with Mental and Substance Use Disorders: Establishing Recovery Housing
July 30, 12:30 - 2 pm, SAMHSA's GAINS Center

Using PSYCKES Quality Indicator Reports
August 4, 10 - 11 am, OMH

Using PSYCKES from Home
August 7, 10 - 11 am, OMH

Transform to Teleservices: Part I-Expanding Access to Substance Use Disorder Treatment in Drug Courts
August 11, 1 - 2:30 pm, SAMHSA's GAINS Center

August 12, 2 - 3 pm, SAMHSA's GAINS Center

Using PSYCKES for Clinicians
August 12, 1 - 2:30 pm, OMH

PSYCKES Access and Implementation
August 18, 11 am - 12 pm, OMH

August 18, 1 - 2:30 pm, SAMHSA's GAINS Center

Implementing a Peer Mentor Program: Strategies for Engaging Peer Recovery Support Specialists in Adult Treatment Courts
August 31, 12:30 - 2 pm, SAMHSA's GAINS Center


JULY 2020

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


Addiction Services & Recovery Committee (ASR) Meeting
August 13: 11 am - 12 pm, GTM

Children & Families Committee Meeting
August 18: 11:30 am - 1 pm, GTM

Contact CLMHD for all Call In and Go To Meeting (GTM) information, 518.462.9422 
FCC Approves 988 to be 3-Digit Number for National Suicide Hotline Starting in 2022

In two years, individuals in suicidal crisis seeking help will have a number that's easy to remember and quick to dial to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

At its July open meeting Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission's five leaders unanimously voted to finalize 988 as the three-digit number Americans can dial and be directed to the 24/7 national hotline.  Callers currently reach the hotline by phoning the 10-digit number: 1-800-273-8255 (TALK).

But with the FCC's vote to adopt a final rule Thursday, phone service providers will begin the transition process to implement the 988 number nationwide by July 16, 2022. Read more here.

Additional article of interest:  'I Couldn't Do Anything': The Virus and an E.R. Doctor's Suicide
340 Organizations Send Letter to Congress Urging Action On Telehealth

In late June, 340 organizations signed a   letter urging Congressional leaders to make telehealth flexibilities created during the COVID-19 pandemic permanent. Those signing this multi-stakeholder letter include national and regional organizations representing a full range of health care stakeholders and all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.

Congress quickly waived statutory barriers to allow for expanded access to telehealth at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, providing federal agencies with the flexibility to allow healthcare providers to deliver care virtually. If Congress does not act before the COVID-19 public health emergency expires, current flexibilities will immediately disappear.

Therefore, 340 stakeholders have sent a powerful message to Congress outlining the immediate actions necessary to ensure CMS has the authority to continue to make telehealth services available once the national health emergency is rescinded. Read more here.
Insurers Have Been Receptive to Telehealth, Behavioral Health Company Says

CHE Behavioral Health Services
, a Brooklyn company that has traditionally provided mental health services to patients in nursing homes, had been working on a telehealth solution for about two years when the pandemic hit.

It had deployed the service in rural settings, where telehealth was already being reimbursed by Medicare, but hadn't rolled it out in New York City. That has all changed in the past three months, and the company now is doing about 15,000 behavioral health televisits a month.

The company, which was founded in 1995, gradually expanded its offering to include nursing home workers, then their families and finally any person seeking behavioral health services. CHE, which has financial backing from private equity, employs about 700 licensed psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners and other mental health professionals. Read more here.
Health Privacy Rule 42 CFR Part 2 Is Revised, Modernizing Care Coordination for Americans Seeking Treatment for Substance Use Disorders

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS or Department), announces the adoption of the revised Confidentiality of Substance Use Disorder Patient Records regulation, 42 CFR Part 2. The adoption of this revised rule represents a historic step in expanding care coordination and quality through the Deputy Secretary's Regulatory Sprint to Coordinated Care.

The new rule advances the integration of healthcare for individuals with substance use disorders while maintaining critical privacy and confidentiality protections. Under Part 2, a federally assisted substance use disorder program may only disclose patient identifying information with the individual's written consent, as part of a court order, or under a few limited exceptions. Health care providers, with patients' consent, will be able to more easily conduct such activities as quality improvement, claims management, patient safety, training, and program integrity efforts. Read more here.
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services: Continuing Progress in the Fight Against the Opioid Crisis

The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a devastating toll on Americans across the country, whether in lives lost or economic impacts, and it has particularly affected our fellow citizens who have the most vulnerabilities, including the elderly and communities of color.  We've been forced to adjust and adapt our daily lives in innumerable ways, while significant public health resources have had to be redirected to help us meet and beat this unprecedented pandemic.

But even as we've battled COVID-19, federal, state, and private sector initiatives didn't stop addressing other critical issues, including another one of the most pressing public health crises facing our country:  opioid misuse and overdose.  As the largest healthcare payer in the U.S., the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is actively using coverage and payment levers to advance evidence-based responses to the opioid epidemic.  To frame our strategy, we've created a three-part  Roadmap to fight the epidemic:  preventing opioid misuse; expanding access to opioid use disorder (OUD) treatment; and using data to better target our efforts.

We recently announced a proposed rule for Medicaid (CMS-2482-P) that builds on current policies to help ensure that opioid prescribing is appropriate, medically necessary, and avoids adverse medical events. Read more here.

UnitedHealthcare Donates $1.3 Million to Nonprofits in New York

UnitedHealthcare, a UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) company, is awarding more than $1.3 million in Empowering Health grants to 14 community-based organizations in the state of New York to expand access to care and address the social determinants of health for uninsured individuals and underserved communities.

In total, UnitedHealthcare is donating $12.3 million through Empowering Health grants across 21 states. UnitedHealthcare launched its Empowering Health commitment in 2018.

More than half of the Empowering Health grants will help organizations increase their capacity to fight COVID-19 and support impacted communities. These grants will assist individuals and families experiencing challenges from social distancing, food insecurity, social isolation and behavioral health issues, which are among the most urgent needs resulting from the pandemic. Read more here.
New York Taps $20 Million Family First Act Aid to Prevent Aging Out During Pandemic

For months since the eruption of the deadly coronavirus, youth and advocates have been imploring New York to allow young people in the foster care system to continue receiving financial and housing support beyond their 21st birthday.

Now, the state is endorsing a creative way for county social service departments to do just that - by using some of the money sent from Washington, D.C. to help them comply with the requirements of the  Family First Prevention Services Act.

That law, which passed in 2018, overhauled national child welfare policy to increase federal spending on family preservation and restrict funding on group homes and institutions. 

A supplemental law to help states prepare for those major changes to funding was approved as part of the most recent federal spending bill, and  about $500 million went out to states this summer to help prepare for Family First. New York's share of the fund was $20.5 million. Read more here.
New State Fact Sheets Highlight Key Data About Mental Health and Substance Use Needs and Capacity

The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic downturn are taking a toll on mental health for many Americans, with large shares of the public saying that related worry and stress is having a negative effect on their mental health.

new KFF analysis and series of state fact sheets examine mental health and substance use disorder needs in the states and capacity to meet residents' needs prior to the pandemic, which is expected to place additional strains on the system. Average weekly data for June 2020 found that 36.5% of adults in the U.S. report symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder, up from 11.0% in 2019. Louisiana (42.9%), Florida (41.5%) and Oregon (41.3%) have the highest shares reporting such symptoms, while Wisconsin (27.2%), Minnesota (30.5%) and Nebraska (30.6%) have the lowest.

The analysis highlights the wide range of needs and resources across states. Read more here.

Why Value-Based Purchasing For Medications Matters

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) made big news once again. On June 17, CMS issued a proposed rule to grant state Medicaid programs and other payers flexibility to enter value-based payment (VBP) arrangements with drug manufacturers. The rule's definition of VBP is an arrangement intended to align payments to therapeutic or clinical value in a population, such as evidence-based measures. The cost should be linked to existing evidence of the effectiveness and/or outcomes-based measures. Or payment should be linked to the drug's actual performance in a consumer or a population-such as reduction in medical expenses.

A significant change is that the proposed rule allows medication manufacturers to report multiple "Best Prices" for a medication. The current Federal reporting requirements for medication prices are byzantine in my view and an impediment to rational pricing. In short, under the current Federal reporting requirements, manufacturers must report to CMS their drug's "Best Price"-the lowest net price a manufacturer offers for the medication in the U.S. after factoring in all rebates and discounts. Manufacturers then pay Medicaid programs a rebate equal to 23.1% of a drug's "Average Manufacturer Price" if that amount of rebate results in a net price lower than or equal to the Best Price. This is intended to assure that the post-rebate price to Medicaid programs is no more than the Best Price available on the commercial market. 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.