Category Archives: Mental Health Funding

Medicare Physician Payment Bill Includes Two Mental Health Provisions

On Monday night, the U.S. Senate passed HR 4302, the Medicare Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) extension. The bill passed the U.S. House of Representatives last week and now goes to President Obama for his signature. HR 4302 includes two provisions that are relevant to people living with mental illness and their families.

First, the bill includes the Excellence in Mental Health Act demonstration project. This eight (8) state pilot is critical to modernizing publicly funded mental health services to align with evidence-based practices and to streamline Medicaid funding. The eight states selected will receive planning grants and Medicaid funding to provide comprehensive community-based mental health services and supports, including integrated mental health and primary care treatment. Community mental health programs participating in this program will be required to provide a broad range of services, including 24-hour mobile crisis teams, crisis stabilization services, outpatient mental health and substance use services, peer and family supports, and intensive, community-based services for veterans.

Second, HR 4302 includes authority for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to undertake a new pilot program for states to establish and expand “Assisted Outpatient Treatment” (AOT) programs. This program applies to individuals living with serious mental illness who are not participating in treatment and experience serious adverse consequences such as repeated hospitalizations, homelessness or incarceration. States that choose to apply for funding appropriated for this program will be required to gather outcomes data on the effectiveness of the program, including its impact on reducing negative outcomes.
HR 4302 can be accessed here. The Excellence in Mental Health Act demonstration project can be found in Section 223 and the Assisted Outpatient Treatment demonstration program in Section 224.

Please Complete 5-Question Survey on Mental Health Guide

Prior to the 83rd Texas legislative session, the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health published “A Guide to Understanding Mental Health Systems and Services in Texas 2012.” As they prepare to update the guide for the next legislative session, the Hogg Foundation would appreciate your feedback in order to improve the usefulness of the publication. Please take a moment to complete a brief five question survey provided in the link below by December 20th. Your participation is invaluable to ensuring the guide serves as a beneficial reference tool. To access the electronic version of the guide, please visit http://hoggblogdotcom.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/hoggmentalhealthguide.pdf

Take survey here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/mhguidesurvey

83rd session bills that will improve quality of life for individuals with mental illness

NAMI Texas would like to applaud the passage and signing of the following 83rd session bills.

-SB 1: $259 million mental health funding increase

-SB 126: Relating to the creation of a mental health and substance abuse public reporting system.

-HB 1023: Relating to recommendations by the Health and Human Services Commission or a designated health and human services agency regarding mental health workforce shortages.

-HB 1191: Relating to certain information about housing for persons with mental illness provided through the Texas Information and Referral Network Internet site.

-SB 646: Relating to court-ordered outpatient mental health services (AOT).

-SB 460: Relating to training for public school teachers in the detection and education of students at risk for suicide or with other mental or emotional disorders and the inclusion of mental health concerns in coordinated school health efforts.

-SB 831: Relating to a list of mental health, substance abuse, and suicide prevention programs that may be selected for implementation by public schools.

-SB 1003: Relating to a review of and report regarding the use of adult and juvenile administrative segregation in facilities in this state.

-SB 1842: Relating to restraint and seclusion procedures and reporting at certain facilities.

-SB 44: Relating to maintaining and reporting certain information regarding certain child abuse or neglect cases and the provision of mental health services for children in those cases.

-SB 50: adding mental health to the scope of the Children’s Policy Council.

-SB 421: Relating to the Texas System of Care and the development of local mental health systems of care for certain children.

-HB 144: Relating to a mental examination of a child subject to the juvenile justice system.

-HB 2392: Relating to the mental health program for veterans.

-HB 1888: Relating to low income housing tax credits awarded to at-risk developments.

-SB 644: Relating to the creation of a standard request form for prior authorization of prescription drug benefits.

-HB 595: Maintains a single prescription drug formulary for Medicaid and make vital patient protections permanent.

Special thanks to legislators for prioritizing mental health

NAMI Texas would like to thank the following legislators for championing 83rd session bills that would improve the quality of life for individuals living with mental illness.

Sen. Bob Deuell
Sen. John Carona
Sen. Rodney Ellis
Sen. Juan Hinojosa
Sen. Joan Huffman
Sen. Jane Nelson
Sen. Jose Rodriguez
Sen. Charles Schwertner
Sen. Larry Taylor
Sen. Carlos Uresti
Sen. Leticia Van de Putte
Sen. Kirk Watson
Sen. Royce West
Sen. Tommy Williams
Sen. Judith Zaffirini

Rep. Carol Alvarado
Rep. Rafael Anchia
Rep. Cindy Burkett
Rep. Garnet Coleman
Rep. Philip Cortez
Rep. John Davis
Rep. John Frullo
Rep. Ryan Guillen
Rep. Lois Kolkhorst
Rep. Marisa Márquez
Rep. José Menéndez
Rep. Borris Miles
Rep. Joe Moody
Rep. Elliot Naishtat
Rep. Jim Pitts
Rep. Toni Rose
Rep. Chris Turner
Rep. Mike Villarreal
Rep. Paul Workman
Rep. Bill Zedler
Rep. John Zerwas

Also, we’d like to thank Governor Rick Perry for signing a number of bills that would improve the quality of life for individuals living with mental illness.

Texas Senate votes to increase funding for mental health services

Dear NAMI Texas Member or Friend,

Various media outlets are reporting that the Texas Senate passed a budget yesterday that would increase funding for mental health and substance abuse services by $240 million in the upcoming biennium. Only two senators voted against the budget. It is expected that the House will vote on the budget in the next day or two – time is of the essence to help them understand that an increase in funding for mental health services must be written into law.

-Reuters article in the Chicago Tribune: “The bill adds $240 million to reduce waiting lists for mental health and substance abuse programs, an infusion that came in light of questions about mental health funding following recent school shootings, Williams said.” – http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/sns-rt-us-usa-texas-budgetbre92j1fw-20130320,0,4587537.story
-YourHoustonNews.com: “The Senate budget increases spending for mental health services by more than $240 million across various state agencies. Most of the increase for mental health services is reflected by an additional $226 million for community mental health/substance abuse services and for reducing mental health waiting list time.” – http://www.yourhoustonnews.com/cypresscreek/news/legislature-senate-passes—budget-plan/article_c89bcef4-91b7-11e2-bae7-0019bb2963f4.html
-The San Antonio Express-News: http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/local_news/article/Senate-approves-budget-warned-of-transportation-4371302.php

Indeed, the Legislative Budget Board’s ‘Summary of the Committee Substitute for Senate Bill 1’ (the bill was passed by the Senate as reported by the Senate Finance Committee) states that “an increase of $244.7 million in General Revenue Funds is included to expand statewide mental health services for children and adults.” – http://www.lbb.state.tx.us/Appropriations_Bills/83/CSSB1-FINAL_wc.pdf

The bill now moves to the Texas House. As mental health advocates in a state that ranks close to the bottom for mental health funding, we must demand that the House vote in support of a similar increase. Please either place a call to your representative in the Texas House or see below for instructions on how to send your representative an email, with suggested talking points and a sample email message below as well.

You may contact your legislator at the following link
http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/ , complete the form Who represents me? Click the link to your representative and scroll down to complete the e-mail form.

Please feel free to copy and paste the sample letter below (don’t forget to add the correct name and your own personal comments):

Dear Rep.  _______,

I am contacting you as a constituent of your district to urge you to support increased funding for mental health services (SB1 & HB1). We can no longer settle as 49th place in the US for mental health care.

Please consider that one in four adults and one in five children have a diagnosable mental disorder. Inpatient behavioral health facilities are at capacity across the state.  Too many people are waiting three- to six-months time to see a psychiatrist for outpatient treatment. There are limited number of doctors that may take only certain insurance or do not treat children. Children often wait six to seven months just to get a diagnosis and medication. The time is now for Texas to increase funding for mental health services, as recently recognized by the Texas Senate.

Thank you very much for your time.

Sincerely,

(Your NAME)

If you have any questions about this, please feel free to contact me at the NAMI Texas office (512-693-2000) or at my email, ghansch@namitexas.org. Thank you very much for your attention to this.

Sincerely,

Greg Hansch (Gregory Hansch )
Policy Coordinator, National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Texas
Mental Health Policy Fellow, Hogg Foundation for Mental Health

NAMI Office: 512-693-2000 (Toll Free: 1-800-633-3760)
Cell phone: 908-229-7082
ghansch@namitexas.org

Senate Finance Committee testimony 1.31.13

Yesterday, Greg Hansch (our Policy Coordinator) provided his first testimony to the Texas Legislature. It also happened to be his 25th birthday. Please see the quoted text below for the testimony that Greg provided on behalf of NAMI Texas to the Senate Finance Committee on January 31st, 2013.

“Public mental health services in Texas are chronically underfunded. According to Fiscal Year 2010 data from the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors, Texas ranks 49th among the 50 states in per capita mental health spending. This is ostensibly an improvement from our previous position as last in the United States, but in reality we only moved up a spot because Idaho drastically cut spending on mental health services and Texas kept funding levels more or less the same. In Fiscal Year 2010, Texas spent about $39 per capita on mental health services, far below the national average of $127. Recent tragic events like the school shootings in Newtown, Connecticut and College Station, Texas have drawn an unprecedented level of public and media attention to the issue, but the need for greater state investment in the Texas mental health system is longstanding. The time is now for lawmakers to provide adequate funding for mental health services in Texas.

Senate Bill 1 proposes to significantly reduce funding for community mental health services for adults and children.  Further reducing funding for these services is penny wise and pound foolish: when individuals living with mental illness are unable to access services in the community, they often end up in prisons, jails, and hospital emergency rooms. According to the Department of State Health Services and the Legislative Budget Board, it costs 11 times more to treat an individual living with mental illness in the criminal justice system than it does to treat them in the community. Rather than continuing to settle for a costly, crisis-driven system, the state of Texas would be better served by addressing mental illness at the front end through community-based services.

On a related note, the lack of affordable housing and support services for individuals living with mental illness is a primary cause of so many of these individuals ending up in emergency rooms and the criminal justice system. The Department of State Health Services Exceptional Item #8 would go a long way in addressing this issue through housing support options and a 1915(i) amendment to the Medicaid state plan for individuals with extended state hospital stays. This would provide the GR match for community-based services and permanent supportive housing, which has proven to be cost effective and critical for the recovery processes of those living with serious mental illnesses. I strongly encourage the state Legislature to fully fund Exceptional Item #8 of the Department of State Health Services.

Mental health care in Texas is a cause whose time has come. An increase in overall funding for mental health services and the full funding of Exceptional Item #8 would positively impact the lives of individuals living with mental illness and their families, as well as provide an avenue for the more efficient expenditure of state resources for mental health care. Thank you very much for your time.”

President Obama on mental health care

*Please note: This blog post was authored by Stephanie Yin, a Human Development and Family Sciences major at the University of Texas and the new Public Policy Intern for NAMI Texas.

This morning, President Obama and VP Biden held a press conference covering the issue of gun violence. Twenty-three proposals for minimizing the rate of gun violence and for increasing the safety of Americans were introduced. One of the proposals touched on the topic of improving mental health services. The Obama administration is currently suggesting $25 million as an incentive for states to work towards innovative approaches to reach out to young adults in need of treatment for mental illnesses. The age group of 16-25 years is targeted since it has the highest rates of mental illness and is found to be the least likely to seek help. Project Advancing Wellness and Resilience in Education (Project AWARE) is another part of the plan in improving mental health services. Project AWARE includes Mental Health First Aid training to educate teachers and school staff in recognizing signs of mental illnesses in young adults and how to refer them to treatment. $40 million is suggested to go into this project so that schools may work with law enforcement and local facilities to provide mental health services to students. 5,000 more mental health professionals will also be trained to focus on helping students and young adults. Lastly, the President intends to release finalized rules on the federal mental health parity law, which requires insurance companies to cover mental disabilities the same way that they would with physical disabilities.

More resources: 

 The video of the press conference can be found at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=s7ri0U7jSs8

-“Now is the Time: The President’s Plan to Protect our Children and our Communities by Reducing Gun Violence”: http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/docs/wh_now_is_the_time_full.pdf

-Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ State Health Official Letter on the application of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act to Medicaid managed care organizations, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and alternative benefit (benchmark) plans: http://www.medicaid.gov/Federal-Policy-Guidance/downloads/SHO-13-001.pdf

-USA Today article on the President’s mental health announcements: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/health/2013/01/16/obama-calls-for-changes-to-mental-health-care/1839733/

-TheHill.com article on the President’s mental health announcements: http://thehill.com/blogs/healthwatch/mental-health/277529-obama-gun-plan-calls-for-long-awaited-rules-on-mental-health#ixzz2IA634NzX