NCPA Blog: What's On Our Mind
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June 22, 2017 - APA Calls on Senate to Reject Deeply Flawed Health Care Proposal

NEWS RELEASE

ARLINGTON, Va. — The American Psychiatric Association urges the Senate to reject the troubling and harmful health care reform proposal released today by Senate Republicans. The Senate proposal, like the House-passed American Health Care Act (AHCA), falls short of providing needed mental health care benefits and protections to those most vulnerable.

The Senate is expected to vote on the health care reform bill before its July 4 recess. The bill rolls back Medicaid expansion, caps the Medicaid program significantly cutting back funding to states, and removes protections for people with pre-existing health conditions.

APA also expresses serious concerns about the secretive process under which it was drafted and the lack of time for review and debate. Physicians and their patients were not consulted in the process. Consequently, the legislation will have significant negative impacts on care for people with mental illness and substance use disorders.

“Eliminating requirements for coverage of key benefits, including mental health and substance use disorders and other patient protections that are part of the Affordable Care Act, will have detrimental impacts for millions,” said APA President-Elect Altha Stewart, M.D. “Mental health is critical to overall health and needs to be equally accessible.”

APA opposes changes to Medicaid that would lead to a significant number of Americans losing coverage. An estimated 2.8 million Americans with substance use disorders and 1.3 million with serious mental illness have gained coverage for the first time under the expansion of Medicaid in the current law. Medicaid expansion has been an important resource in helping address the opioid epidemic, providing access to treatment for many caught up in the crisis.

“The Senate proposal represents a significant move in the wrong direction, resulting in fewer people having access to insurance, fewer patient protections, and less coverage for essential behavioral health care,” said APA CEO and Medical Director Saul Levin, M.D., M.P.A. “We urge the Senate to reject this harmful legislation and start again on a health care bill that puts patients first.”

APA has previously joined with many other health care organizations in expressing serious reservations with the House health care proposal passed in May. The House-passed American Health Care Act (AHCA) would strip 23 million people of their health insurance coverage. Medicaid program cuts totaling more than $800 billion over ten years are particularly alarming. Medicaid is the largest provider of behavioral health services for psychiatric patients. ACHA would also end the guaranteed inclusion of mental health and substance use disorder treatment services in the list of essential health benefits currently covered under the Affordable Care Act.

The American Psychiatric Association is the oldest medical association in the country founded in 1844. The APA is also the largest psychiatric association in the world with more than 37,000 physician members specializing in the diagnosis, treatment, prevention and research of mental illnesses. APA’s vision is to ensure access to quality psychiatric diagnosis and treatment.

 
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June 20, 2017 - Forsyth Plans to Manage More Behavioral Health Services, Shifting $1.4 Million from Cardinal

By Richard Craver
Winston-Salem Journal

Forsyth County plans to take direct management of about 63 percent of its funding for behavioral health services for fiscal 2017-18, shifting nearly $1.4 million away from Cardinal Innovations Healthcare Solutions.

Forsyth Board of Commissioners is required to provide $4.03 million annually to behavioral health oversight services, a responsibility Cardinal absorbed as part of taking over CenterPoint Human Services in June 2016.

There are about 80,000 eligible Medicaid recipients in Forsyth for mental health, substance abuse and developmental disability services.

Cardinal was budgeted in 2016-17 to manage just under $2.9 million, or 72 percent, of that county funding.

However, according to a county allocation chart, Cardinal was provided with $1.95 million — the main difference being Old Vineyard Behavioral Health Services not receiving $695,000 in budgeted funding and ARCA not receiving $150,000. The chart shows state funding was used for those expenditures.

Also, Cardinal did not receive $868,047 dedicated to the planned Highland Avenue crisis center at 650 Highland Ave. Those funds were put into an unallocated reserve fund by the county.

For 2017-18, Cardinal has been approved to manage $1.52 million, while the county will manage $2.51 million.

“The punchline is that the county will manage more of the mental health allocation,” said Ronda Tatum, an assistant county manager.

“The county determined that our funds would be targeted at: safety net services to assure services are available and provided to those needing them; services and programs that mitigate barriers to promote access to care; jail and emergency department diversion programs; support services enhancing quality of life and stabilization; services not eligible for Medicaid or other funding sources; and operating support for the Highland Avenue center,” Tatum said.

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June 21, 2017 - Archer Western to Remain on Broughton Hospital Project

By SHARON MCBRAYER

It appears when the state fired the contractor of the new Broughton Hospital in April it didn’t really mean it.

Archer Western Contractors, the original contractor for the project, will remain on the job and the new completion date is May 31, 2018, according to the state. State officials previously have said Archer Western’s completion dates for the project since the beginning has been a moving target.

The state and Travelers Casualty and Surety of America, the insurer of the project, signed a takeover agreement last week.

In a statement sent to The News Herald on Monday, the state said, “After nearly two months of negotiations, DHHS has worked out an agreement to complete the new psychiatric hospital for the citizens of western North Carolina. Our overarching goals for the new Broughton Hospital were focused on opening the hospital as soon as possible; addressing the backlog of mental health patients in the region’s hospital emergency departments; and limiting the need for additional taxpayer funds to complete the project.

The statement goes on to say, “Despite DHHS’ concerns, Travelers Casualty and Surety of America chose Archer Western Contractors to complete the construction. At our insistence, the takeover agreement now includes greater oversight and tripled financial penalties for delays.”

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