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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.

The Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP) is exploring options for collecting treatment data covering the period from September 2015 through the present. This data has not yet been reported to DDAP due to the lack of a functioning data system. In order to properly assess each option, DDAP needs some critical information from the provider community. Single County Authorities (SCAs) will be distributing the survey immediately to the providers with which they contract; responses must be provided by Friday, January 13, 2017. Please complete the survey accurately and within the requested timeframe so DDAP can appropriately assess the options for collecting this much needed data.

Thursday, January 12, 2017 • Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

In the wake of new technology and the Affordable Care Act, there has been a movement to reform the way behavioral health providers deliver and are paid for their services. Specifically, there is a consensus that health reform cannot be achieved without improved quality and simultaneously decreasing cost.

The Alliance for Health Reform hosted a briefing on Monday, December 12 to discuss the social determinants of health. For those who were unable to attend, here is the video and a transcript.

The financing of medical care is typically siloed from investments in housing, nutrition, criminal justice, and other social supports, even though all of these factors affect health outcomes and life expectancy. When allocating public dollars, policymakers need to know what investments can have the greatest impact on the health of individuals. This briefing examined the challenges of aligning or combining funding sources to achieve better health outcomes, how analysts can prove value in such ventures, and the role of health care professionals in caring for patients who have both medical and non-medical needs.

The National Council for Behavioral Health wants to help you prepare for this journey and invites you to join the new Practice Transformation Academy to get there. The National Council’s newest learning community, the Practice Transformation Academy, is a year-long change management program designed for senior leaders charged with overseeing the organizational transitions necessary for success in value-based payment arrangements. Through comprehensive technical assistance, participating organizations will have the opportunity to: design clinical pathways; create robust, data-driven quality improvement practices; and implement sustainable business operations.

Don’t miss the opportunity for peer-to-peer and individualized coaching to develop your organization’s roadmap and accomplish a practice transformation stretch goal unique to your organization. The program begins in March 2017 and runs through March 2018.

From ASAM Weekly

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced on November 17 that nurse practitioners (NPs) and physician assistants (PAs) can begin taking the 24 hours of required training to prescribe buprenorphine to treat opioid use disorder. NPs and PAs who complete the required training and seek to prescribe buprenorphine for up to 30 patients will be able to apply to do so beginning in early 2017. HHS is also announcing its intent to initiate rulemaking to allow NPs and PAs who have prescribed at the 30-patient limit for one year to apply for a waiver to prescribe buprenorphine for up to 100 patients. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is working quickly with training providers to help them adapt curricula and obtain continuing education credits for this training. Updates on training information and the waiver application will be available on the SAMHSA and American Society of Addiction Medicine websites.

Pennsylvania is experiencing an opioid crisis of unprecedented proportions. A document summarizing of one of the most significant problems in the drug and alcohol treatment system was recently sent to Secretary Gary Tennis, Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP) and Deputy Secretary Dennis Marion, Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (OMHSAS).

The drug and alcohol programs have been chronically underfunded for many years. Treatment providers have worked to operate efficiently and within the constraints of budgeting limitations. However, the consequences of these financial limitations, particularly the lack of rate increases, have caused severe financial strain on the provider system. The lack of a fair rate setting process which assures that the reasonable cost of services are covered has led to inadequate rates, resulting in programs closing, no longer working in the publicly funded system, or refusing to increase the size of their commitment to offering services to public clients. This can best be evidenced by the extreme lack of detox facilities available today.

RCPA has requested an opportunity to work with DDAP and OMHSAS to assure adequate services to meet the needs of the citizens of Pennsylvania. The next step will be to meet with both officials to discuss the critical issue of implementing a fair rate setting process. Contact RCPA Director, Drug & Alcohol Division, Lynn Cooper, with any questions.

The Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP) sent an announcement out to the drug and alcohol community warning of incorrect routing of calls for treatment placement. The purpose of the announcement is to make single county authorities (SCAs) and treatment providers aware of an issue that has been occurring more frequently over the past few days. Individuals from the general public have been using Google to locate treatment providers and/or SCAs and the phone number Google shows for the facility is NOT that of the SCA/provider. Apparently, scammers are working to direct unsuspecting people in need of treatment to programs in Florida. As to be expected, their interest is only with people who have private insurance. These scams are creating roadblocks to treatment and major confusion for those seeking needed treatment. Numerous RCPA members have verified that these acts are creating major problems. Members have reported that these companies, and ones like them, are using false and misleading advertising/tactics and illegally using the identities of treatment providers here in Pennsylvania.

DDAP reported that it appears there is an option on Google where the SCA/provider can suggest an edit to the incorrect information and by doing so, can select scam/scammer as the reason for the change. DDAP is working hard to get callers the correct contact information for the SCA/provider. Individual agencies may want to attempt to correct the information on the web search engines whenever possible. Questions should be directed to Lynn Cooper.