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May 26, 2016

Advancing Public Policies for People with Mental Illness, Chemical Dependency or Developmental Disabilities   

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Francine Sinkoff, Editor

Funding Opportunity: Community Based Organization (CBO) Planning Grant

The state Health Department and the Office of Health Insurance Programs have issued a request for applications from community-based providers that want funding to engage in planning related to DSRIP in order to " identify business requirements and formulate strategies for short-term needs." Up to $7.5 million is available to be split into three awards. DOH is requesting that interested applicants register for a conference call that will be held on June 8 at noon. The deadline to apply for the grant is August 16. 

More information is online here.  To locate the opportunity on Grants Gateway, search by the opportunity name:  Community Based Organization (CBO) Planning Grant.

NYS Social Workers: New ACES Course Offers 12 CE Credits!

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES): 12 hour self-paced course 
Cost: Free. $180 if requesting continuing education hours ($90 for UAlbany SSW field instructors). This course is approved for 12 self-study CE hours for NYS social workers.  Click here to register.

Description: This 13-module course designed primarily for social workers and other social service providers and program directors may be relevant to others as well. The training includes an overview of ACE research and key elements of the Restorative Integral Support (RIS model) for ACE Response. In addition to intervention selection, this includes attention to leadership, policies, and organizational culture. Provider self-care is emphasized as an important aspect of practice and program development.  Click here for flyer.
DOH Offers Value Based Payment (VBP) Bootcamps

NYS Department of Health recently launched a new Value Based Payment (VBP) Bootcamps webpage under the DSRIP portion of its website. The VBP Bootcamps are regional learning series created by DOH with a goal to equip future VBP contractors with the knowledge necessary to implement NYS Payment Reform. The website provides a Bootcamps schedule, content outlines and ability to register for regional sessions. The first session for the Capital Region kicks-off on June 2nd.  Registrations will open 3 weeks in advance and close 1 week before each event. These events are free and open to the public.
For those who are unable to attend the Bootcamps, sessions 1, 2, and 3 of Region 1 (Capital region, Mid-Hudson, and the Southern Tier) will be webcast live. The link will be sent out when it becomes available.
Any questions may be directed to
Chipping Away at EHR Roadblocks: What's Working, What's Not?

Despite the growing use of EHRs in recent years, major hurdles remain to widespread adoption in the U.S. According to a recent
report to Congress by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT, barriers include inconsistent EHR adoption across the healthcare continuum, lack of interoperability, lack of national policies to support health information exchange and issues with health data security and usability.

CMS' EHR Incentive Program compensates eligible doctors and hospitals as they adopt, implement, upgrade and show meaningful use of certified EHR systems. The agency's Regional Extension Centers program is also helping to fuel adoption by supporting on-the-ground assistance for physicians transitioning to EHRs.  

But while these incentives have been quite effective at driving EHR adoption in hospitals, they have been less so for provider practices, says Julia Adler-Milstein, a health policy expert who teaches at the University of Michigan.   This is likely to change with the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System and Alternative Payment Models and the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act  (whose
implementation final rule proposal was released yesterday ), because doctors will have to demonstrate meaningful use and EHRs as a component of Medicare and Medicaid payment, she says. "But until the systems get better, cheaper, easier to use, etc., I suspect that many providers will hold off investing."  Read more here.



JUNE 2016
Mental Hygiene Planning Committee - In Person Meeting
June 2:  11 am - 2 pm
41 State Street, Albany

Officers & Chairs - Call In
June 8:  8 - 9 am

Directors / Executive Committee Combined Meeting
June 21:  9:30 - 11:30 am
GTM Only

Contact CLMHD for all Call In and Go To Meeting information, 518.462.9422 
CLMHD Welcomes James Button, RPC Project Director
The Conference is proud to introduce James Button as the Project Director for Regional Planning Consortiums (RPCs).  James will lead the successful implementation of RPCs across NY State, including hiring, supervising and directing Project Coordinators within the 10 RPC regions.  Under his management and coordination, RPCs will monitor and problem solve around the transition of behavioral health care services into a Medicaid Managed Care benefit, and around other systems transformation initiatives which impact the behavioral healthcare throughout the state.
Most recently, James worked for Citizen Advocates, a public behavioral health and developmental disabilities provider in Franklin County.  As Director of Quality Assurance, he worked closely with each department to implement evidence based practices and provide support for clinical decisions.  In addition to many years of clinical work experience, James comes to us with a great deal of project management skills, having recently served as project lead for a national quality accreditation.  He possesses a detailed understanding of county and state government structures and has worked in Medicaid funded programming for the past 10 years.
James looks forward to working with stakeholders to successfully implement RPCs across the state.   Welcome James!
Spending Off to Slow Start Under Medicaid Waiver Project

The state's Delivery System Reform Incentive Payment program, the most ambitious Medicaid reform effort in New York history, is behind schedule in spending the money that has been allocated for the program.

Of the 25 Performing Provider Systems, only Bassett Medical Center spent more than half of what it was allotted through the first nine months of the program's first year. Six of the 25 systems spent less than 10%, according to the most recent reports.

The spending reports amount to caution flags for the $8 billion project, as it moves into the second year of a five-year waiver.

Several leaders of the Performing Provider Systems who spoke with POLITICO New York suggested three culprits: new money for capital projects was awarded later than expected, contracting with managed care companies took longer than anticipated, and claims data from the state has not been robust.  Read more here.
5 Factors Influencing Telemental Health

Telemental health services are becoming an increasingly viable part of the behavioral healthcare continuum, but industry analysts caution that video conferences will not entirely replace in-person therapy sessions anytime soon.

Walgreens and MDLive joined a growing list of providers to offer telemental health service offerings,  announcing an expansion of their partnership earlier this month. A network of more than 1,000 licensed therapists across the country is now available to Walgreens customers through MDLive's counseling services. The program allows patients to schedule secure video sessions by appointment through the Walgreens website or the Breakthrough mobile app.

The Walgreens/MDLive telemental health service follows similar offerings from  Doctor on Demand and Regroup Therapy. And there are other emerging choices available to consumers as well.

Telemental health-the provision of remote mental health services through technology such as video conference calling and mobile apps-fills a need, but experts say the solution has both positives and negatives for care givers, payers and patients.
"In the practicing community, we're in an age where people are comfortable using technology, but there's still a stigma in dialing in through technology and taking care of it in such a way that is different from a traditional in-person encounter," says Amy F. Lerman, senior counsel for Epstein Becker Green (EBG) and co-author of the firm's 50-State Survey of Telemental/Telebehavioral Health, published this year. "People are still getting used to accepting that as a mode of care. But the convenience factor is winning people over, especially those who are increasingly comfortable with the use of technology in multiple aspects of their lives."

Moving forward, there are five factors that will define the future of telemental health services.   Read more here .
A.G. Schneiderman Offers Assistance For Individuals And Families Seeking Substance Abuse And Mental Health Treatment 

Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman recently announced that his office is offering assistance for individuals and families seeking substance abuse and/or mental health treatment. New York's  mental health parity law, known as Timothy's Law, was enacted in 2006 and requires that insurers provide broad based coverage for the diagnosis and treatment of mental health disorders at least equal to coverage provided for other health conditions. The New York Insurance Law also requires health plans to administer substance abuse treatment coverage consistent with the federal Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, which was enacted in 2008, and prohibits health plans from imposing greater financial requirements or treatment limitations on mental health or substance use disorder benefits than on medical or surgical benefits.

In order to help protect the rights of patients, Attorney General Schneiderman today issued an alert encouraging those seeking treatment or facing barriers with their health insurer to call his office's Health Care Helpline at 1-800-428-9071. 

The alert from Attorney General Schneiderman aims to assist New York residents and their families who are struggling with substance abuse or mental health disorders. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the number of drug overdoses related to opioid abuses have increased dramatically over the past decade, including over 2,000 drug overdose deaths in New York in 2014. Today's alert aims to assist residents with knowing their rights when accessing substance abuse treatment through their insurance provider, and encourages them to contact the Attorney General's Health Care Helpline with any questions.  Read more here.
Opioid Prescriptions Drop for First Time in Two Decades

After years of relentless growth, the number of opioid prescriptions in the United States is finally falling, the first sustained drop since OxyContin hit the market in 1996.
For much of the past two decades, doctors were writing so many prescriptions for the powerful opioid painkillers that, in recent years, there have been enough for every American adult to have a bottle. But for each of the past three years - 2013, 2014 and 2015 - prescriptions have declined, a review of several sources of data shows.

Experts say the drop is an important early signal that the long-running prescription opioid epidemic may be peaking, that doctors have begun heeding a drumbeat of warnings about the highly addictive nature of the drugs and that federal and state efforts to curb them are having an effect.

"The culture is changing," said Dr. Bruce Psaty, a researcher at the University of Washington in Seattle who studies drug safety. "We are on the downside of a curve with opioid prescribing now."

IMS Health, an information firm whose data on prescribing is used throughout the health care industry, found a 12 percent decline in opioid prescriptions nationally since a peak in 2012. Another data company, Symphony Health Solutions, reported a drop of about 18 percent during those years. Opioid prescriptions have fallen in 49 states since 2013, according to IMS, with some of the sharpest decreases coming in West Virginia, the state considered the center of the opioid epidemic, and in Texas and Oklahoma. (Only South Dakota showed an increase.)

So far, fewer prescriptions have not led to fewer deaths: fatal overdoses from opioids have continued to rise, taking more than 28,000 lives in 2014, according to the most recent federal health data. That number includes deaths from both prescription painkillers, like Percocet, Vicodin and OxyContin, and heroin, an illegal opioid whose use has been rising as access to prescription drugs has tightened.  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.