The GAO and Oregon Legislature Explore Behavioral Health Workforce Issues
The Federal Government Accountability Office (GAO) is undertaking a review of behavioral health workforce projections, including estimates of supply and demand from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). It is interested in understanding:
- What is known about the current number of certain behavioral health professionals in the workforce.
- What is known about the federal role in assessing the size of the workforce, including demographic information such as age, practice location, practice setting and years in practice, gender, and ethnicity/race.
- What is known about HRSA’s ability to develop behavioral health workforce demand projections, and what challenges, if any, does the agency face in developing these projections.
- What is known about barriers and incentives to recruiting and retaining a diverse workforce of behavioral health professionals who are available to serve populations across the U.S.
In the recent legislative session, the Oregon legislature passed HB 2086, which includes a provision in Section 7 for the Oregon Health Authority to conduct a study with recommendations for how to increase wages for behavioral health providers. The Oregon Health Authority has contracted with the Center for Health System Effectiveness at Oregon Health & Science University to conduct this study, with a report due to the legislature by February 1, 2022. This study will include an analysis of reimbursement rates, comparing rates for behavioral health services vs. physical health services, and comparing mental health services to addiction services. Focus groups will be conducted with behavioral health providers and users of behavioral health services. Key informant interviews will be conducted with interested parties, both in Oregon and nationally. The study will assess initiatives in other states regarding wages for behavioral health providers.