December 15, 2021
Addiction Is An Emergency: End Wait Times For Services And Expand Access To Life-Saving Medications

The pandemic landscape has exacerbated the magnitude of the opioid crisis and challenged our health care infrastructure’s ability to respond. More than 93,000 people died from an overdose in 2020, 30 percent more than the previous year and the highest number since the federal government declared a public health emergency in 2017. Fueled by a rise in non-prescription opioids, namely heroin and illicit fentanyl, 2021 is on track to be the deadliest year on record for the opioid crisis in the United States.

When a patient seeks help in battling addiction, it can be a fleeting moment with the magnitude of an emergency. A ground-breaking 2015 study identified emergency department (ED) visits as opportunities to greatly expand access to opioid use disorder (OUD) treatment with buprenorphine. Read more here.

State Policy Changes Could Increase Access to Opioid Treatment via Telehealth

When the COVID-19 pandemic struck in early 2020, social distancing guidance and stay-at-home orders threatened to disrupt medical care for hundreds of thousands of people receiving medication treatment for opioid use disorder (OUD) across the United States. In response, the federal government began allowing people to receive these health care services remotely, or via telehealth, by interacting with doctors and other providers over the internet and by phone. (See Box 1.)

Emerging research shows that allowing telehealth-based OUD treatment during the pandemic helped patients initiate and remain on medication treatment, and also that these patients stayed in treatment and abstained from illicit opioids at rates comparable to individuals who received care in person. Read more here.
Value In Medicaid, Part 1: Administrative, Regulatory, And Financial Challenges

Following implementation of the Affordable Care Act, the Department of Health and Human Services established ambitious goals in Medicare for linking fee-for-service (FFS) payments to quality and value and transitioning more Medicare payments to models that move away from FFS. As a result, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) initiatives to stand-up and accelerate value-based purchasing (VBP) and alternative payment models (APMs) within Medicare have garnered most of the attention in academic and policy arena discussions on value in health care.

Meanwhile, in Medicaid, the nation’s public health insurance program for people with low income, CMS and some states are testing modified reimbursement schemes and delivery models to incentivize quality and begin promoting value. Read more here.
Senator Brouk, Assemblymember Gunther Introduce Bill to Require Mental Health Resources in the Workplace

Senator Samra Brouk (SD-55) and Assemblymember Aileen Gunther (AD-100) have introduced legislation that would require employers to conspicuously post information and resources pertaining to mental health. The mental health needs of New York State’s workforce have been historically neglected, with the pandemic causing increased levels of burnout and work-related stress. The postings that would be implemented by this bill would be similar in nature to OSHA signage currently visible in most workplaces’ staff areas. Read more here.

Understanding Unit Costs & Why They Matter So Much In Value-Based Reimbursement

Many health and human service executives are under the impression that value-based reimbursement (VBR) models alleviate the need for organizations to worry about unit costs and productivity anymore. This is definitely not the case. In fact, managing unit cost is just as critical, if not more, in a value-based payment environment.

VBR models are focused on realigning incentives to provide high quality service while keeping the cost of services down. And now, more than 93% of health plans — including commercial plans, Medicaid, and Medicare — have implemented some type of pay-for-performance reimbursement models. In addition, the use of episodic or bundled payments for specific acute care episodes is gaining traction, with 59% of plans using this model. Read more here.
Supreme Court Again Leaves State Vaccine Mandate in Place for Health Care Workers

The U.S. Supreme Court has turned away a challenge to New York state's vaccine mandate for health care workers — a mandate that provides no exceptions for religious objectors. The vote was 6-3.

This was the second time the court has refused to block such a state vaccine mandate for health care workers. As in an earlier case from Maine, New York provides only one exemption from the mandate, and that is a narrow medical exemption for those who have suffered a severe allergic reaction after a previous dose of the vaccine or a component of the COVID-19 vaccine. Read more here.
Governor Hochul Announces $29.4 Million for Supportive Housing Projects and Emergency Shelter Repairs

Governor Kathy Hochul on Monday announced that $29.4 million in state funding has been awarded to nine projects in seven counties that will provide permanent supportive housing to New Yorkers experiencing homelessness. Supported through the state's Homeless Housing and Assistance Program, these projects include emergency shelter repairs and developments that will create an additional 239 units of permanent supportive housing serving veterans, individuals with a history of substance use disorder, and those suffering from serious mental illness. Read more here.

December 15, 1 - 2:15 pm, NYAPRS

December 15, 1 - 2:30 pm, DOH

December 16, 11:30 am - 1 pm, Partnership to End Addiction

December 16, 2 - 3 pm, National Council for Mental Wellbeing

December 17, 12 - 1 pm, Corporation for Supportive Housing

December 17, 1 - 2 pm, MHANYS

December 17, 3 - 4 pm, Corporation for Supportive Housing

January 12, 2022, 11 am - 12 pm, Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs


Mental Hygiene Planning Committee Meeting
December 16: 1 - 3 pm

CLMHD Office Closed - Christmas Observed
December 24

CLMHD Office Closed - New Year's Day Observed
December 31
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)