Mental Health

Patrick Kennedy, former United States Representative and founder of the Kennedy Forum, has issued an open letter to the heads of the leading insurance companies in response to the findings of last week’s Surgeon General’s report. The report, Facing Addiction in America: The Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health, addresses a broad array of issues, ranging from illicit drug abuse to prescription drug addiction, alcohol use, binge drinking, and teen alcoholism. Mr. Kennedy’s letter urges the commercial nation’s health industry to take action in five key areas:

  1. Eliminate the onerous medical management practices responsible for inadequate, ineffective treatment of addiction;
  2. Immediately ensure that all plans cover and reimburse for well-supported medication-assisted treatment (MAT), including buprenorphine, buprenorphine-naloxone, buprenorphine-hydrochloride, methadone, naltrexone, acamprosate, and disulfiram, at rates equal to coverage for medications used to treat other forms of chronic illness;
  3. Incentivize greater coordination of care;
  4. Adequately disclose processes for ensuring parity compliance;
  5. Promote screening and work with communities to implement prevention interventions.

Each of these requests is clarified in further detail in the letter. Patrick Kennedy was the prime sponsor of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 and author of the book, A Common Struggle (Blue Rider Press/Penguin Random House, 2015).

Yesterday, a Texas federal judge issued a temporary injunction to the Department of Labor’s (DOL) overtime rule. In granting the preliminary injunction, the federal judge said the DOL’s overtime rule exceeds the authority the agency was granted by Congress.

As you may recall, the DOL’s overtime rule was announced in May, and it has been opposed by many businesses and nonprofits. The rule was to take effect on December 1 of this year. Now with yesterday’s ruling, it is likely that President-elect Trump’s administration, which opposed the rule, will have time to review it and make changes and/or roll back various provisions contained in the current rule.

The DOL could appeal the Tuesday ruling, but with the Obama administration only having approximately two months in office, an appeal is unlikely. With many RCPA members already implementing and announcing changes to comply with the DOL’s overtime rule, it might be difficult for those members to roll back these changes, because it may impact employee morale. As further information is released, RCPA will provide additional guidance to members. Please contact Jack Phillips, RCPA Director of Government Affairs with any questions.

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The number of adults in the United States age 65 and older is expected to exceed 82 million by 2040. Approximately 16 million of these older adults will have a mental health or substance use condition, and they’ll be turning to their primary care providers for care.

Growing Older: Providing Integrated Care for an Aging Population is a new publication from the SAMHSA-HRSA* Center for Integrated Health Solutions that offers guidance for primary and behavioral health care providers to be prepared to meet the unique health needs of older adults.

Tips and information highlighted include:

Interested in learning more about how to serve older adults? Other key resources on serving older adults can be found on the SAMHSA-HRSA website. The RCPA older adult work group will be meeting after the Mental Health Committee meeting on Wednesday, December 7, in the RCPA conference room, Suite 300. Please contact Sarah Eyster if you are interested in attending in person or by conference call.

*Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration-Health Resources and Services Administration

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RCPA, in conjunction with the National Council of Behavioral Health, and the Washington, DC-based Behavioral Health & Economics Network (BHECON), will be hosting a forum on Investing in Pennsylvania’s Behavioral Health Workforce. The event will take place on Friday, December 2, between 10:00 am – 3:00 pm at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, 23 South 2nd Street, Harrisburg, PA. There is no charge to attend and lunch will be provided.

The goal of the forum is to bring together diverse stakeholders to examine and advance policy reforms to strengthen the Commonwealth’s behavioral health delivery systems. Some of the issues/topics to be discussed include:

  1. Identifying programs in Pennsylvania that are doing exceptionally well when it comes to delivery of behavioral health services;
  2. Discussing the top challenge providers face with regard to workforce;
  3. Identifying public policies the state needs to change to make recruitment and retention of employees easier;
  4. Identifying federal policies that are holding providers back from recruiting and retaining employees; and
  5. Discussing whether the Excellence in Mental Health Act can help providers expand capacity to serve more people in the community, and how Pennsylvania could build on its current Excellence Act activities in the future.

The agenda for the day includes a welcome from the Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor Mike Stack, a lunch discussion concerning the Department of Labor’s Overtime Rule, and morning and afternoon panel discussions.

There is no registration fee and lunch will be provided. You may register here for the event. Questions and suggestions regarding the forum may be shared with Jack Phillips, director of government affairs.