August 18, 2021
Please note: this newsletter will not be published the week of August 23rd
Mental Health Clinics Angle for a Spot in Biden Budget Bill

WASHINGTON (AP) — An innovative program to help people with mental health and substance abuse problems is being primed for a major expansion as the COVID-19 pandemic deepens struggles with drug use, depression and anxiety for many Americans.

Community behavioral health clinics offer 24/7 services to catch people falling into crisis and pull them back. One tactic involves deploying peer counselors who have lived and survived their own trauma. Launched in the Obama administration, the clinics actually got scaled up under President Donald Trump. That’s not typical for a government health program in politically polarized times. Read more here.
Governor Cuomo Announces Patient-Facing Healthcare Workers at State-Run Hospitals Will Be Required to Get Vaccinated for COVID-19 by Labor Day

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that patient-facing healthcare workers at state-run hospitals will be required to get vaccinated for COVID-19 by Labor Day. There will not be an option to be tested in lieu of vaccination for these patient-facing healthcare workers. The Governor also announced that all New York State employees—about 130,000 people—will be required to get vaccinated for COVID-19 by Labor Day. State employees who do not get vaccinated will be required to be tested for COVID-19 on a weekly basis. New York State is working with state unions to implement the requirement quickly and fairly.

The Governor also called on the FDA to expedite final approval of the vaccine and end emergency use authorization restrictions. Governor Cuomo also urged local governments to require all employees to be vaccinated or submit to testing by Labor Day. If the numbers continue to increase, school districts in affected areas should also strongly consider taking further action. Read more here.
Attorney General James and U.S. Department of Labor Deliver $14 Million to Consumers Who Were Denied Mental Health Care Coverage

New York Attorney General Letitia James and the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) today announced landmark agreements with UnitedHealthcare (United), the nation’s largest health insurer, to resolve allegations that United unlawfully denied health care coverage for mental health and substance use disorder treatment for thousands of Americans. As a result of these agreements, United will pay approximately $14.3 million in restitution to consumers affected by the policies, including $9 million to more than 20,000 New Yorkers with behavioral health conditions who received denials or reductions in reimbursement.

New York and federal law requires health insurance plans to cover mental health and substance use disorder treatment the same way they cover physical health treatment. Read more here.
How a Long Island Hospital and a School District Teamed Up to Help Kids in Emotional Crisis

In 2019, the Rockville Centre school district in Long Island, New York, was shaken by a string of student deaths, including the suicides of a recent graduate and a current student.

“When you get these losses, one after the other, you almost can’t get traction on normalcy,” said Noreen Leahy, an assistant superintendent at the school district.

To Leahy, the student suicides exposed a children’s mental health crisis brewing for years. She had observed a concerning uptick in depression, anxiety and suicidal ideation among students. Her school district had a team of mental health professionals, but Leahy said they couldn’t provide the kind of long-term care many students needed. Read more here.
NYPD Pooch: With Stress on Officers Spiking, New York Joins Wave of Police Agencies Using Therapy Dogs

New York Police Department First Deputy Commissioner Benjamin B. Tucker knows that what an officer sees on the job can have an impact for many years. He still remembers the deadly gang-related arson when he was a beat cop in Brooklyn in the 1970s, and the unsolved murder of a man he found lying on the pavement, the bullet wound behind his ear not yet visible.

In 2019, when the nation’s largest police department grappled with a record wave of officer suicides, Tucker brought those memories with him as he and other department brass brainstormed how to alleviate job-related stress.

Enter Jenny and Piper — newly-minted yellow Labrador retriever detectives with the NYPD’s Employee Assistance Unit. Read more here.
Affordable Naloxone is Running Out, Creating a Perfect Storm for More Overdose Deaths, Activists Say

An affordable antidote for opioid overdoses has become more difficult to obtain amid a fatal epidemic, in what advocates have called a “perfect storm” with deadly consequences.

After a manufacturing issue halted Pfizer’s production of the single-dose injectable naloxone in April, groups that distribute a significant amount of the lifesaving medicine say they are facing an unprecedented obstacle to reverse drug overdoses as they reach an all-time high. Organizers say the insufficient supply has been felt unequally across the country. Read more here.

A Call For Improved Data Collection On The Long-Term Services And Supports Needs Of Working-Age Adults With Disabilities

The COVID-19 pandemic has been particularly disruptive for people who require regular support from others in their daily lives, including people with disabilities. While there has rightfully been a focus on people residing in nursing homes during the pandemic, only about 10 percent of the estimated 14 million adults in the United States who need long-term services and supports (LTSS) reside in nursing homes or other institutional settings. The remaining 90 percent who reside in the community—nearly half of whom are working-age adults—are also at substantial risk of COVID-19 infection, as well as losing relied-upon services and support systems and experiencing social isolation. Read more here.
Using Cultural Competency for Mental Health Access Outreach

College campuses need stronger cultural competency when designing mental health access outreach, as racial and ethnic minorities increasingly forego access to care, according to data from the University of California, Riverside.

The study, published in the Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities, particularly recommended college campuses look at the shared cultural values between Asian and Latinx students, two populations that researchers said often go without needed mental healthcare. Read more here.
How Medicaid Managed Care Can Meet Rising Demand For Behavioral Health Services

The pandemic has changed Medicaid. There are more Medicaid enrollees post-pandemic—total Medicaid/ CHIP enrollment grew to 81 million in February 2021, an increase of 9.8 million consumers, or nearly 14%, from enrollment in February 2020. With the disparities in the health care system, COVID has had a disproportionate effect on Medicaid beneficiaries. For example, just under 50% of Medicaid consumers aged 16 and older in Oregon have received at least one dose of the vaccine compared to 70% of the state’s 18+ population. Vaccination rate disparities nationwide have experts concerned as the nation’s poorest individuals typically have the worst health outcomes, including shorter life expectancy. And during much of the pandemic, Medicaid beneficiaries did not seek medical care. There was a 22% decline in mental health service use (12 million fewer services) by adults aged 19 to 64, compared to the same time period in 2019. Substance use disorder service utilization fell by 3.6 million services (13% decline) when compared to the same time period in 2019. And mental health services are showing the slowest rebound now. Read more here.
How to Add, Pay Community-Based Organizations in Value-based Care Contracts

Value-based care is now firmly entrenched in our healthcare system. Payers credit value-based care with lowering costs, improved outcomes, enhanced payer/provider relationships, and improved patient engagement.

With the growth of value-based care models, a trend gaining traction is the transition from treatment at a provider’s site to a patient’s home. This shift to home and community-based care, accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, shows no signs of abating.

Value-based care is well-suited to handle this change. This model by its nature is focused on wellness; members don’t always need facility-based care. Read more here.

August 18, 3 - 4:30 pm, NAADAC

August 24, 2 - 3 pm, National Council for Mental Wellbeing

August 25, 12 - 1 pm, National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA)

August 26, 2 - 3 pm, American Association of Suicidology (AAS) & the National Council for Mental Wellbeing

August 30, 12:30 - 2 pm, SAMHSA's GAINS Center

August 31, 1 - 2:15 pm, National Council for Mental Wellbeing

August 31, 3 - 4 pm, NYSDOH

September 2, 1:30 - 3 pm, SAMHSA's GAINS Center

September 8, 1:30 - 3 pm, CMS

September 10, 12 - 1 pm, American Association of Suicidology

September 14, 12 - 1 pm, PsychU

September 16, 12 - 1:30 pm, Suicide Prevention Center of NY


Executive Committee Meeting
September 1: 8 am

LGU Billing Staff Call
September 2: 2 - 3 pm

Mental Health Committee Meeting
September 2: 3 - 4 pm

September 6

Mental Hygiene Planning Committee Meeting
September 8: 1 - 3 pm

Addiction Services & Recovery Committee Meeting
September 9: 11 am - 12 pm

LGU Clinic Operators Call
September 14: 10 - 11:30 am

Children & Families Committee Meeting
September 21: 11:30 am - 1 pm

Membership Call
September 22: 9 - 10:30 am

Developmental Disabilities Committee Meeting
September 30: 1 - 2:30 pm

SAVE THE DATE: CLMHD Fall Full Membership Meeting
October 21-22 in Saratoga Springs, NY
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)