March 17, 2022
As a Crisis Hotline Grows, So Do Fears It Won’t Be Ready

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline — the number posted on student identification cards, atop Google search results and in warning labels on television shows — is about to get a major reboot, casting it as the 911 for mental health.

With an infusion of federal money, the upgraded Lifeline starting in July will have its own three-digit number, 988, and operators who will not only counsel callers but eventually be equipped to dispatch specially trained responders. That will reduce interventions by armed law enforcement and reliance on emergency rooms — and ultimately keep people alive, advocates say. Read more here.

Legislature Looks to Nix Hochul's Medicaid Managed-Care Procurement

The New York Assembly and Senate's one-house budget plans rejected Gov. Kathy Hochul's proposal to bid out the state's $60 billion Medicaid managed care program.

The one-house budget proposals, which were released during the weekend, left out Hochul's effort to initiate a competitive bidding process for managed care organizations to cover or continue covering the state's Medicaid enrollees. Of the state's 7.4 million Medicaid members, roughly 6 million are enrolled in a Medicaid managed care plan, according to the state Department of Health. Read more here.
New York’s Homelessness Crisis Needs More Than This

As the state and city budget seasons shift into high gear, we’re already getting a trickle — soon to be a raging river — of big-budget proposals coming from private-industry groups, advocacy organizations, and politicians. There are calls to spend nearly $2 billion to pay off delinquent utility bills. $5 billion to provide universal child care. $1.7 billion to build out CUNY over the next five years and make the university tuition-free for city residents.

These are all interesting and worthy proposals. But it’s important that Mayor Eric Adams, Governor Kathy Hochul, and state lawmakers not lose sight of the catastrophe unfolding underground, and that they treat the situation like the emergency it is. Read more here.
New Data Show Disturbing Racial Disparities in Combined Opioid-Cocaine Overdose Rates

An exclusive interview with researcher Tarlise Townsend, Ph.D., reveals a definitive need for harm reduction policies plus investment in treatment in marginalized communities. In these communities, particularly lower-income African American and Latino neighborhoods, the opioid epidemic has combined with stimulant abuse to create a sharp spike in overdoses. These findings, from a study funded by the National Institutes of Health that examined death certificate data in the dozen years before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, were published last month in the American Journal of Epidemiology. Read more here.
Manhattan Lawmaker Takes Aim At 1960s Law That Blocks Medicaid Funds For Psych Care

As New York struggles to get treatment to people with serious mental illness, one barrier hasn't budged: Medicaid is forbidden from covering long-term stays for most patients receiving mental health or substance abuse treatment in a facility with over 16 beds. That federal law, in place for more than half a century, blocks a major source of funding that could pay for residences that provide long-term treatment — anything from traditional psychiatric care to innovative efforts to divert people to therapy instead of prison. Read more here.
Harckham Introduces the Ensuring Access to Behavioral Health Act

New York State Senator Pete Harckham announced [on Saturday] that he has introduced legislation to expand access to mental health care, Substance Use Disorder treatment and recovery support services for residents statewide. The new bill, known as the Ensuring Access to Behavioral Health Act, would require that insurance companies extend their network adequacy requirements to cover care for behavioral health issues, and have the state’s Commissioner of Health review the insurer’s managed care plans to ensure compliance with the law when enacted. Read more here.
With Overdoses At Record Highs, a Veterinary Tranquilizer Spreading Through the U.S. Drug Supply Poses New Threats

It was in the mid-2010s, the researchers heard, when “tranq dope” took off in Philadelphia. They knew that “tranq dope” — opioids that contained the veterinary tranquilizer xylazine — was already a fixture in the drug supply in Puerto Rico and had sporadically turned up in overdose reports in Philadelphia as far back as 2006. But now, people who used drugs and sold drugs told the researchers that xylazine had become a sought-after substance, and it had become a much more prevalent element of the local drug supply. Read more here.
Northwell, Intermountain and Other Health Systems Launch Alliance to Support Their Beleaguered Workforces

Half a dozen health systems have come together to form an alliance sharing best practices and other data around improving workforce diversity, well-being and engagement. Called the Evolve Health Alliance, the program is an extension of workforce-focused collaborations struck by the member groups as they navigated the early days of pandemic disruption. Alongside Northwell, the other five members of the alliance are Intermountain healthcare, AdventHealth, Atrium Health, Henry Ford Health System and OhioHealth. Read more here.
Tips for Designing Community Health Worker Training Programs

The role of the community health worker is becoming more prominent, but that’s leaving some healthcare organizations and public health agencies with a big question. How do they design community health worker training programs?

Nationwide, community health worker training programs have no mandated curriculum. While some states host their own community health worker training programs, there isn’t necessarily an evidence-based best practice for helping aspiring community health workers learn core competencies. Read more here.
Patient Comfort With Virtual Mental Healthcare is High

A majority of healthcare consumers across all age groups are as or more comfortable with app-based virtual therapy than in-person services, according to a new report.

For the report, Evernorth, Cigna's health services portfolio, partnered with Ipsos to conduct a nationwide survey of more than 3,000 healthcare consumers with employer-sponsored health insurance, 575 human resources leaders, and 58 health plan leaders. The survey was conducted in the fourth quarter of 2021.

Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, virtual behavioral healthcare shot up. About 17 percent of respondents said they used virtual mental health services in 2021, compared with 11 percent in 2020. Read more here.

Leveraging “Social” In Health Plan Partnerships

One of my big takeaways from discussions with health plan executives over the past month is realizing just how addressing social support needs can differentiate provider organization proposals for ‘preferred’ relationships. For moving beyond fee-for-service (FFS) arrangements, most of the executives spoke of three key criteria—the required metrics on cost and performance, the ability to scale, and a defined service package that included elements not covered under current FFS contracts. Those programmatic elements are typically either treatment technology of some type—or provide social supports that fall outside of traditional health service definitions. Read more here.

Pandemic-Driven Health Policies To Address Social Needs And Health Equity

Stark disparities during the COVID-19 pandemic led to new health policy funding and interventions addressing social needs and social determinants of health to improve health equity. Lessons from these interventions and similar prepandemic initiatives can guide policy makers in designing more permanent approaches. Read more here.
Governor Hochul Announces $2.5 Million In Funding For Mental Health Resource Center For Schools

Governor Kathy Hochul [on Monday] announced the availability of $2.5 million over five years to create and support a Mental Health Resource and Training Technical Assistance Center for Schools. The center will support all New York State public and private schools, and assist them in providing mental health education as part of the K-12 health curricula. Read more here.

Lawmakers Seek to Double Hochul's Proposed Wage Hike for Human Services Providers

Lawmakers in Albany are pushing for a larger funding increase to raise wages for workers in the human services sector in this year’s state budget than what Gov. Kathy Hochul included in her initial proposed spending plan two months ago.

Both the State Senate and Assembly proposed, in their rebuttal spending plans released over the weekend, double what Hochul included in her budget proposal in January. The funding would be directed toward providers that receive funding from the state through several agencies dealing with mental health, developmental disabilities, addiction services, children and families, and more. Read more here.
Federal Government Allows Program to Pay Substance Abusers for Staying Clean

A new legal opinion from the Biden administration appears to clear the way for wider use of an underutilized harm reduction technique: paying people addicted to drugs for staying clean.

Known as “contingency management,” the idea is supported by decades of research that shows providing repeated small payments for meeting goals in the recovery process has an outsize impact in helping people remain sober. The technique also has been used to help people quit smoking, lose weight and change other unwanted behaviors. Read more here.
Grants to Expand Substance Abuse Treatment Capacity in Adult and Family Treatment Drug Courts

Grants to enhance and expand substance use disorder treatment services in existing drug courts, recognizing the need for treatment instead of incarceration for individuals with substance use disorders.

Geographic coverage: Nationwide and U.S. territories
Application Deadline: May 9, 2022

March 17, 2 - 3 pm, National Council for Mental Wellbeing

March 17, 3 - 4:30 pm, Policy Research Associates

March 17, 3:30 - 5 pm, NASMHPD

March 21, 3:30 - 5 pm, NASMHPD

March 22, 12 - 1:30 pm, SAMHSA's GAINS Center

March 22, 1 - 2:30 pm, National Council for Mental Wellbeing

March 22, 2 - 3 pm, NAASP

March 22, 2 - 3:30 pm, NASMHPD

March 22, 2 - 3:30 pm, OMH

March 23, 1 - 2:30 pm, National Council for Mental Wellbeing

March 24, 3 - 4 pm, Camden Coalition

March 24, 3 - 4:30 pm, Policy Research Associates

March 29, 4 - 5 pm, National Council for Mental Wellbeing

March 30, 11 am - 12 pm, OMH

March 30, 2 - 3 pm, NACo

March 31, 12 - 1 pm, PsychU

March 31, 2 - 3 pm, National Council for Mental Wellbeing

March 31, 2 - 3:30 pm, CMS

April 5-6, April 12-13, Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs

April 7, 1 - 2 pm, NASHP

April 7, 2 - 3:30 pm, CMS

April 13, 2 - 3:30 pm, CMS


Quarterly LGU Clinic Billing Staff Call
April 7: 2 - 3 pm

LGU Clinic Operators Call
April 12: 10 - 11:30 am

Addiction Services and Recovery Committee Meeting
April 14: 11 am - 12 pm

Mental Health Committee Meeting
April 14: 3 - 4 pm

CLMHD Spring Full Membership Meeting
April 21-22, Embassy Suites, Saratoga Springs
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.

Affiliated with the NYS Association of Counties (NYSAC)