Over the past few months, legislation has been introduced to eliminate Pennsylvania’s behavioral health carve-out model. Two legislators from York County, Rep. Seth Grove and Senator Kristin Phillips, introduced companion bills HB 335 and SB 268, which call for merging behavioral health with the larger statewide physical health system and network; however, both of these bills have stalled due to push back from stakeholders, who support continuation of the behavioral health carve-out model.
Despite the fact that these bills have stalled in the legislative process, Rep. Grove is urging his leadership to insert a provision into a budget bill (the Health and Human Service Code) to have the Legislative Budget & Finance Committee (LBFC) perform a “study” on the behavioral health carve-out model, thus bypassing the committee and traditional legislative process.
RCPA is asking members to contact their legislators and urge them to reject any efforts to eliminate or weaken the behavioral health carve-out model. When speaking to your legislator, please find talking points for opposing any amendments to budget bills that will affect the behavioral health carve-out model. Questions, contact RCPA Director of Government Affairs Jack Phillips.
The Coalition to Preserve Behavioral HealthChoices, which includes RCPA, has signed onto a letter that will be sent out to members of the General Assembly stating “strong opposition to House Bill 335.” This bill calls for elimination of the Behavioral Health Carve-Out, known as Behavioral HealthChoices (BHC). BHC is the statewide program through which every county delivers mental health and drug & alcohol services to vulnerable Pennsylvanians enrolled in the Medical Assistance program, and their families. Please contact RCPA Director of Government Affairs Jack Phillips with any questions.
In the last week, State Representative Seth Grove (R – York) drafted and is circulating a co-sponsorship memo that will possibly eliminate the behavioral health carve-out. Additionally, State Representative Aaron Kaufer (R – Luzerne) spoke with Jack Phillips, RCPA’s Director of Government Affairs, expressing his interest in drafting similar legislation. On the Senate side, Senator Kristin Phillips-Hill (R – York) has also drafted and is circulating a co-sponsorship memo that would eliminate the behavioral health carve-out.
RCPA President/CEO Richard Edley and RCPA Director of Government Affairs Jack Phillips spoke with staffers from the House Human Services and Health Committees about this legislation. The House staff asked for RCPA’s feedback within the next few weeks, because staff will be working on the draft legislative language. During the discussion with House staff, RCPA requested stakeholder meetings and possibly a House hearing on the legislation. The House staff was open to RCPA’s recommendations, and they indicated a willingness for a robust discussion on this legislation.
Additionally, Richard and Jack met with Rep. Mike Sturla (D – Lancaster), Chairman of the House Democratic Policy Committee, and his staff to discuss the impacts of eliminating the behavioral health carve-out.
RCPA supports the behavioral health carve-out and has drafted a position paper in favor of continuing the carve-out. RCPA staff will use the position paper when they discuss this issue with legislators and members of the administration on this issue. Questions, contact Jack Phillips.