EHN is committed to making sure that the people of El Paso and their mental health needs are not overlooked,” said Kristi Daugherty CEO, Emergence Health Network. “We are encouraged by the conversations that we have already had with several lawmakers in Austin regarding what EHN can continue to do as a Local Mental Health Authority (LMHA) and what can be done with additional funding and programs to better serve the residents in the El Paso community.
EHN would also like to thank the many individuals who took part in the our Legislative Forum in October 2016, when we met with stakeholders and asked for input in order to ensure that our Legislative Priorities truly reflect the needs of our community.
Emergence Health Network
Legislative Priorities for the 85th Legislative Session
- Encourage budget increases to behavioral health, SUD and IDD that will allow capacity to align with Texas’ continually increasing population and appropriately expand systems of care.
- Support extraordinary items that would restore any cuts to IDD and SUD programs.
- Support increasing the Medicaid reimbursement rate.
- Support legislative and budgetary solutions, including loan repayment assistance, to offer provider incentives for mental health professionals with the goal of directing students into those career fields and attracting out-of-state professionals.
- Expand graduate medical education funding so that Texas has slots for all of its medical students, preferably at a ratio of 1.1 slots per student. Ensure that sufficient psychiatry residency slots exist. Establish contracting guidelines to ensure that LMHAs have access to psychiatric residency services from fiscal and operational perspectives.
- Recognizing outcomes associated with the integration of behavioral health and SUD treatment, support legislation directing HHS to contract with LMHAs to provide SUD services. To maximize cooperation and existing capacity, LMHAs maintain the ability to subcontract with community SUD providers.
- Allow integrated contracting for providers who contract with MCOs to provide behavioral and physical healthcare services.
BEHAVIORAL HEALTH SERVICES
- Expand programs to treat First Episode Psychosis, making a long-term investment to treat individuals likely to become future super-utilizers.
- Promote partnerships for innovative treatment solutions, combining state and local dollars with local expertise to meet regional needs. Utilize this structure to replicate successful DSRIP projects.
- Support regulatory reforms that allow SUD services to be provided in the home setting, and that allow SUD providers to operate under a master organizational license, rather than requiring each location providing services to be individually licensed.
- Support efforts to improve quality of services provided by state psychiatric hospitals through partnerships with local mental health authorities, medical schools and regional healthcare providers.
- Support clinical programming that addresses the complex needs of identified “Super Utilizers” of mental health, crisis and diversion services in order to more appropriately utilize system resources.
- Support IDD system redesign that promotes the vital LIDDA role and viable provider system: The system must provide Comprehensive Targeted Case Management; oversight to ensure individual choice, quality and well-being; specialized program and clinical expertise; and crisis intervention and stabilization.
- Establish a support system for IDD consumers to transition out of a school setting; Add slots for these consumers, who regularly face decade-long waitlists.
CRIMINAL JUSTICE ISSUES
- Support expansion of pre-arrest and post-arrest diversion of mental health patients from jails. Support establishment of regional crisis-intervention treatment centers to facilitate diversion.
- Support the expansion of probation as an alternative to incarceration for low-level nonviolent crimes. Not only is probation much more cost effective, incarceration can exacerbate behavioral health conditions, especially where continuity of an established treatment program is disrupted.
- Support legislation that directs nonviolent drug offenders toward treatment in lieu of incarceration.
- Support the expansion of mental health and substance-use courts.
- Provide judges additional discretion to order outpatient Competency Restoration Treatment for low-level misdemeanor offenders.
- Ensure that adequate amounts of forensic and civil beds are available, establishing the CannonDesign Report’s recommendations for bed numbers as a long-term goal.
- Amend statutes so that Medicaid benefits for the incarcerated are suspended, rather than terminated.
- Expand funding for peer-support services, including jail-specific pilot programs.
- Support legislation that would require police departments serving cities larger than 500,000 people to have a Crisis Intervention Team.
- Maintain current support of veterans’ courts and of Military Veterans Peer Network, and seek expansion of same.
- Support continued existence and funding of programs that enable LMHAs and peer organizations to meet the specialized behavioral health needs of veterans and their families, including the Texas Veterans + Family Alliance program (S.B. 55).
- Support regulatory reforms that allow direct licensure pathways for military members who practice the profession their MOS indicates in the civilian world.
ACCESS TO CARE
- Support reducing licensure burdens for providers who wish to relocate to Texas.
- Support telemedicine expansion, especially where used to address provider shortages in critically underserved and/or rural areas, and to address lack of mental health expertise in emergency rooms and jails. Support removing face-to-face telehealth requirements.
- Support legislation expanding APRN scope of practice, enabling qualified nursing professionals to alleviate critical provider shortages, and preventing the brain drain created when Texas-trained APRNs leave for less-restrictive states.
- Support continued expansion of Mental Health First Aid.
- Support renewal of the 1115 Waiver on terms that sustain successful DSRIP projects and continue to fund services for the uninsured.
- Promote a super-utilizer waiver that allows providers to serve without secondary authorizations in order to facilitate treatment.
- Support providing the Texas Department of Insurance with tools to enforce and punish parity violations, including a clear method for Texans to report parity violations.
- Support Medicaid Expansion, allowing thousands of people who cannot access behavioral health and/or SUD coverage to do so.
- Support legislation clarifying that insurance plans may not exclude self-harm from coverage.
- Expand education about suicide prevention into middle- and high-school settings.
- Amend Chapter 533 of the Texas Government Code to remove the expiration date of the requirement that MCOs and PBMs use VDP Medicaid and CHIP formularies and the Medicaid PDL. In the alternative, extend the deadline in 533.005(a)(23) beyond the current expiration date of August 31, 2018.
- Support removal of regulatory, legislative or contract-based barriers that require use of software that does not communicate with CMBHS, OSAR’s technological interface.
- Support robust cybersecurity regulations without establishing unfunded mandates.