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Authors Posts by Sarah Eyster

Sarah Eyster

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Ms. Eyster represents the association at state-level meetings and serves as staff liaison to the Mental Health Committee. She is responsible for member communication of, and the analysis of, Department of Human Services and other key policy decisions.

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Image by David Mark from Pixabay

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) awarded $15 million in planning grants to 20 states to support expanding community-based mobile crisis intervention services for Medicaid beneficiaries. By connecting people who are experiencing a mental health or substance use disorder crisis to a behavioral health specialist or critical treatment, these services — which will be provided by funding from the American Rescue Plan (ARP) and will be available 24 hours per day, every day of the year — can help save lives. Importantly, these services can also help to reduce the reliance on law enforcement when people are experiencing a behavioral health crisis and, in turn, may help to prevent the unnecessary incarceration of people with serious mental illness or substance use disorders.

The planning grants — funded by the ARP — provide financial resources for state Medicaid agencies to assess community needs and develop programs to bring crisis intervention services directly to individuals who are experiencing a substance use-related or mental health crisis outside a hospital or facility setting. These grants will help states integrate community-based mobile crisis intervention services into their Medicaid programs, a critical component of establishing a sustainable and public health-focused crisis support network.

“The pandemic has taken a serious toll on the mental health of Americans, especially in underserved communities,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra. “Through these awards, the Biden-Harris Administration is making a bold investment to highlight the importance of behavioral health and ensure states can provide vital services to those hardest hit by the pandemic. This funding from the American Rescue Plan will expand access to crisis care for everyone — and reach people where they are.”

“With these grants, CMS is taking strides to connect individuals in crisis with the high-quality, expert care they need. Providing behavioral health care experts as alternatives to police is an example of how we can better help communities deliver on the behavioral health needs of all its residents,” said CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure.

The planning grants provide funding to develop, prepare for, and implement qualifying community-based mobile crisis intervention services under the Medicaid program. Grant funds can be used to support states’ assessments of their current services; strengthen capacity and information systems; ensure that services can be accessed 24 hours a day, every day of the year; provide behavioral health care training for multi-disciplinary teams; or seek technical assistance to develop State Plan Amendments (SPAs), demonstration applications, and waiver program requests under the Medicaid program.

On April 1, 2022, thanks to the ARP, all states will be eligible for a temporarily enhanced matching rate for implementing a qualified community-based mobile crisis intervention option in their Medicaid programs. The period of performance for this grant will be from September 30, 2021, through September 29, 2022.

View the list of CMS Award Recipients.

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Each year, the Conference Planning Committee and staff work to develop new and different ways to enhance the conference experience. This year, our virtual platform partner Showcare will offer exciting opportunities for attendees to be able to connect with one another. Using your profile, you can choose interest areas, “ping” a colleague you haven’t seen in a while, and directly connect with exhibitors based on your business needs.

Next, in addition to traditional education offerings, we are pleased to include several “thought leader” sessions that will be live and recorded to briefly hear about health care initiatives. These sessions are anywhere from 10 minutes to 30 minutes.

Finally, even though we cannot be together in person, we hope that you will stick around Wednesday and Thursday during the late afternoon hours for some fun, informal networking. Grab your favorite drink and snack and hang out with the public group, or create a breakout room and privately connect with friends.

Don’t miss out – register here!

Photo by Kane Reinholdtsen on Unsplash

As you participate in our 2021 Conference Leading in 2021, be sure to hear from the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services Secretary Meg Snead, Maryland Deputy Secretary of Behavioral Health Dr. Aliya Jones, and a Delaware state leader who is TBD, in a session moderated by Chuck Ingoglia of the National Council for Mental Wellbeing. This will be held on Tuesday, September 28, at 4:30 pm. The state leaders will discuss statewide initiatives, federal policy implications, and the impact on providers and service provision as we navigate through the phases of the pandemic.

If you haven’t already, be sure to register! For individual registration, please visit here. If registering for a group, please visit here. Please note that all presenters will be registered by RCPA. Our early bird registration has been extended until Friday, September 10, 2021.

RCPA, Community Behavioral Health of Maryland (MDCBH), and the Ability Network of Delaware (A.N.D.) are pleased to open registration for our virtual conference, Leading in 2021: Hoping, Healing, Helping, September 28 – October 1. RCPA, MDCBH, A.N.D. staff, and the Conference Committee have worked tirelessly to create an exciting event that has something for everyone. Early bird registration has been extended until Friday, September 10, 2021.

For individual registration, please visit here. If registering for a group, please visit here. Please note that all presenters will be registered by RCPA.

Workshops are now posted, so be sure to see what’s in store for this year’s conference! With more than 50 continuing education (CE) hours, attendees will be able to fulfill licensing cycle required education in just a few days! In addition to live sessions, there are several on-demand sessions that offer critical topics and information. These on-demand sessions are currently being posted to our website and will be completed shortly, so be on the lookout for more information! You can make a payment for CE credits at the time of registration or log in and pay during the event.

You Don’t Want To Miss These General Sessions!

  • Chuck Ingoglia, President and CEO of the National Council for Mental Wellbeing, and Gabrielle Sedor, COO and Foundation Director for ANCOR will discuss the strengthening of Medicaid, the effects of COVID on business, and the workforce crisis.
  • Nic Sheff, award-winning author and son featured in the film Beautiful Boy, will share his journey from addiction through recovery, and the impact on his world and family.
  • Pennsylvania’s Secretary of the Department of Human Services, Med Snead and Delaware Human Services Leaders will discuss the state of their states, moderated by Chuck Ingoglia.
  • A review of the need for equity in service provision and establishing a comprehensive continuum of care for people with severe autism – parent and professional panel.
  • Deborah Riddick will present, as she is a public policy expert with more than 25 years of experience advancing nursing practice, health equity and community engagement initiatives in Pennsylvania, Michigan, New Jersey, and Oregon.
  • Sara Canaday, Leadership strategist, speaker and author of “Leadership Unchained: Defy Conventional Wisdom for Breakthough Performance,” will share her insights on this managing employee’s needs for flexibility while delivering results and satisfying client needs, along with her valuable advice for leaders who are feeling stretched to the limits.
  • Graham Hetrick, television star and Dauphin County coroner, will discuss what he has learned from people who have died from addiction and how he “speaks” for the dead in his television series.
  • Natalia La Duca is a national speaker on neurodiversity, employment, and becoming an ally.
  • Returning with new information, conference favorite Attorney Mike Cohen, partner at Duane Morris LLP, will discuss A Workplace Built for 2021 and Beyond: examining diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging, and implicit bias.

Our virtual conference can be viewed on any device. Find Connections Hall sponsors and exhibitors, hear about endeavors and innovations, and learn how they can help you. Go for the points to win one of 10 prizes!

Finally, we are creating some entertaining break and after-hour events, which offer informal networking opportunities for our attendees. There will be some fun competition with exciting prizes.

Visit the RCPA Conference website for specific updates to the schedule, posted as they become finalized.

RCPA, Community Behavioral Health of Maryland (MDCBH), and the Ability Network of Delaware (A.N.D.) are pleased to open registration for our virtual conference, Leading in 2021: Hoping, Healing, Helping, September 28 – October 1. RCPA, MDCBH, A.N.D. staff, and the Conference Committee have worked tirelessly to create an exciting event that has something for everyone. With the move to virtual only, the final schedule will be posted at the end of August. Early bird registration has been extended until Friday, September 3, 2021.

For individual registration, please visit here. If registering for a group, please visit here.

With more than 50 continuing education (CE) hours, attendees will be able to fulfill licensing cycle required education in just a few days! In addition to live sessions, there are several on-demand sessions that offer critical topics and information. You can make a payment for CE credits at the time of registration or log in and pay during the event.

You Don’t Want To Miss These Sessions!

  • Chuck Ingoglia, President and CEO of the National Council for Mental Wellbeing, and Gabrielle Sedor, COO and Foundation Director for ANCOR will discuss the strengthening of Medicaid, the effects of COVID on business, and the workforce crisis.
  • Nic Sheff, award-winning author and son featured in the film Beautiful Boy, will share his journey from addiction through recovery, and the impact on his world and family.
  • Pennsylvania’s Secretary of the Department of Human Services, Med Snead and Delaware Human Services Leaders will discuss the state of their states, moderated by Chuck Ingoglia.
  • A review of the need for equity in service provision and establishing a comprehensive continuum of care for people with severe autism – parent and professional panel.
  • Deborah Riddick, National Public Policy Specialist focusing on consumer and community engagement.
  • International speaker, author, and leadership consultant Sara Canaday will discuss managing the current leadership complexities and making the shift from motion to meaning using a new set of strategies.
  • Graham Hetrick, television star and Dauphin County coroner, will discuss what he has learned from people who have died from addiction and how he “speaks” for the dead in his television series.
  • Natalia La Duca is a national speaker on neurodiversity, employment, and becoming an ally.
  • Returning with new information, conference favorite Attorney Mike Cohen, partner at Duane Morris LLP, will discuss A Workplace Built for 2021 and Beyond: examining diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging, and implicit bias.

Our virtual conference can be viewed on any device. Find Connections Hall sponsors and exhibitors, hear about endeavors and innovations, and learn how they can help you. Go for the points to win one of 10 prizes!

Finally, we are creating some entertaining break and after-hour events, which offer informal networking opportunities for our attendees. There will be some fun competition with exciting prizes.

Visit the RCPA Conference website for specific updates to the schedule, posted as they become finalized.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

P4A Hopes to Join Forces with Providers and Other Stakeholders to Increase Access to MH and SUD Services for Older Adults

Message from P4A:

The Pennsylvania Association for Area Agencies on Aging (P4A), the community leaders in serving older adults, is working hard to improve access to mental health and substance use disorder services for older adults in Pennsylvania. We hope to partner with community providers, Behavioral Health Managed Care Organizations (BH-MCOs), and other essential stakeholders wherever possible to improve access to these vital services now and in the future. The U.S. population is aging. Today, more than 46 million older adults ages 65 and older live in the U.S. Between 2020 and 2030 alone, when the last of the baby boomer cohorts reach age 65, the number of older adults is projected to increase by almost 18 million. By 2030, 1 in 5 Americans is projected to be 65+ years old, and older people are projected to outnumber children for the first time in U.S. history. Current systems are not prepared for the “silver tsunami” about to hit.

The primary goal of this project is to help older adults remain in their homes and communities and improve their physical, social, and emotional well-being. The consequences of untreated mental health and substance use disorders can be especially grave for older adults. The lack of these vital services affects older adults in countless ways:

  • Reduces the quality of life;
  • Jeopardizes independent living; and
  • Increases health risks and risk of suicide.

This project will improve access by linking existing systems and improving communications between systems. This project will also provide much-needed cross-systems training about the unique needs of older adults and each system’s services as well as identify ways they can work better together. We aim to build capacity by working with Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs), MH and SUD providers, counties, managed care organizations, and other related agencies by providing information, training, tools, and service delivery ideas. The plans are to utilize the unique assets each community brings and address each obstacle identified. For example, changes need to be made in the various funding structures, such as Medicare, to help break down funding barriers to access.

A special workshop, entitled “Improving Access to Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Services for OUR older adults. YOU Can Help!” will be held at the upcoming RCPA Conference Leading in 2021: Hoping, Healing, Helping. Please consider either attending or viewing the workshop at a later time. If you have any questions or would like additional information, contact Lynn Cooper, Behavioral Health Policy Specialist, via email or at 717-805-8915.

RCPA, Community Behavioral Health of Maryland (MDCBH), and the Ability Network of Delaware (A.N.D.) are pleased to open registration for our virtual conference, Leading in 2021: Hoping, Healing, Helping, September 28 – October 1. RCPA, MDCBH, A.N.D. staff and the Conference Committee have worked tirelessly to create an exciting event that has something for everyone. With the move to virtual only, the final schedule will be posted at the end of August.

For individual registration, please visit here. If registering for a group, please visit here.

With more than 50 continuing education (CE) hours, attendees will be able to fulfill licensing cycle required education in just a few days! In addition to live sessions, there are several on-demand sessions that offer critical topics and information. You can make a payment for CE credits at the time of registration or log in and pay during the event.

Topics and guests include:

  • Updates from our national partners at ANCOR and the National Council for Mental Wellbeing;
  • Nic Sheff, author and son portrayed in the movie Beautiful Boy, will describe how addiction and recovery impacted his life and family;
  • State of the States – policy priorities across Delaware, Maryland, and Pennsylvania directly from each state’s human service leader;
  • Learn more about the addicted brain from TV star and Dauphin County Coroner Graham Hetrick;
  • Hear about the Neurodiversity movement and employment opportunities that exist for people who are neurodivergent;
  • Conference favorite, human resources lawyer Mike Cohen, will talk about DEI in the workplace;
  • Leadership investment in the “intangible skills” – what are they?;
  • The use of technology to help people remain in their homes;
  • The use of poetry to reach children; and
  • Much more, including telemedicine, leadership, managed care, and value-based purchasing.

Our virtual conference can be viewed on any device. Find Connections Hall sponsors and exhibitors, hear about endeavors and innovations, and learn how they can help you. Go for the points to win one of 10 prizes!

Finally, we are creating some entertaining break and after-hour events, which offer informal networking opportunities for our attendees. There will be some fun competition with exciting prizes.

Visit the RCPA Conference website for specific updates to the schedule, posted as they become finalized.

RCPA, Community Behavioral Health of Maryland (MDCBH), and the Ability Network of Delaware (A.N.D.) are disappointed to announce that we can no longer offer a hybrid option for this year’s conference. Making this difficult decision brings about the need to re-work our conference schedule so that you can choose the best virtual plan to meet your conference goals. As such, registration opening has been delayed.

To our conference vendors, we are very excited about the Showcare platform and the ways in which business can be driven to both your “booth” as well as offerings through the marketplace. Expect all games and contests to include you and your product. If you have not yet done so, please take the opportunity to meet with Showcare to learn more about making the platform work for you!

We remain excited about the conference educational and vendor opportunities and look forward to seeing you virtually in September. Last year’s virtual event was a great success, and we know that this year we will build on that.