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NAMI MASS SUPPORTS MEDICAID EXPANSION FOR TREATING MENTAL ILLNESS

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Cites MassHealth as Model for States to Follow

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

May 31, 2013

Woburn, MA—A new report just released by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) identifies Medicaid as the most important source of funding for mental health services in America. And, the Massachusetts chapter of the mental health advocacy organization, NAMI Mass, is highlighting the Commonwealth’s Medicaid program as a model for other states to emulate.

The NAMI report, “Medicaid Expansion and Mental Health Care,” says, “Up to 30 percent of currently uninsured adults who would receive health care coverage through state Medicaid expansions are individuals living with mental illness.” But, 14 states have rejected Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, despite greater concern for mental health care.

“We are lucky in Massachusetts to have one of the most robust Medicaid programs of all 50 states,” says NAMI Mass Executive Director Laurie Martinelli. “MassHealth, our state Medicaid program, provides far superior coverage than any of the private insurers, especially when it comes to mental health.”

Here are a few examples of behavioral health services MassHealth covers that private insurers do not:

  • Transportation: With prior authorization, individuals can be reimbursed for the costs of travel to and from medical appointments and treatment.
  • Emergency Service Providers (ESPs): In cases of crisis, these community-based teams of psychiatric clinicians, certified peer specialists and family partners can be called instead of 911. They come to a person’s home, school, office, etc. to provide assessment, intervention and stabilization services, often preventing emergency room trips and/or prolonged hospitalization.
  • Home-Based Services: Family Partners help the families and caregivers of children under 21 years old to navigate the system and secure necessary services. Therapeutic Mentors help children address and overcome social and educational challenges.

 

MassHealth covers one in six people in the Commonwealth. “MassHealth provides a vital function, covering numerous services that keep people healthy, in recovery and in the community—preventing costly hospital stays and even incarceration,” and Martinelli says the expansion of Medicaid would fill critical gaps in access to health and mental health care, reduce uncompensated crisis care and pave the way to recovery and economic self-sufficiency for millions of Americans.

Each year, nearly 60 million Americans experience a mental health disorder. One in 17 lives with a serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia, major depression or bipolar disorder. And 1 in 10 children and adolescents in the U.S. suffers from serious emotional and mental disorders that cause significant functional impairment in their day-to-day lives.

Media Contact:

Matt Ellis

Ellis Strategies, Inc.
matt@ellisstrategies.com
617-278-6560

About NAMI Mass:

The National Alliance on Mental Illness of Massachusetts (NAMI Mass) is a nonprofit grassroots education, support and advocacy organization. Founded in 1982, NAMI Mass is the state’s voice on mental illness with 20 local chapters and more than 2,500 members. Its mission is to improve the quality of life for people with mental illnesses and their families by educating the public; fighting stigma, discrimination and stereotypes; and advocating to ensure all persons affected by mental illnesses receive the services they need and deserve.

NAMI Mass Testimony for the Department of Public Health Hearing Concerning Cambridge Health Alliance Inpatient Pediatric Psychiatry Services

Testimony for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health– Notice of Public Hearing Concerning Cambridge Health Alliance Inpatient Pediatric Psychiatry Services – 105 CMR 130.122(E).

May 8, 2013

My name is Laurie Martinelli, and I am the Executive Director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Massachusetts (NAMI Mass).

NAMI is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness. NAMI advocates for access to services and treatment, and is steadfast in its commitment to raising awareness for all of those in need. Since our inception in 1979, NAMI has been dedicated to improving the quality of life of individuals and families affected by mental illness.

We are here today to voice our deep concern for the closing of 11 child and adolescent acute psychiatric inpatient beds at Cambridge Health Alliance (CHA).

CHA has been a leader in the behavioral health field not only in treatment and care but as a champion for disadvantaged populations. Its commitment to providing care for underprivileged patients has resulted in a much needed safety net for people of all ages to receive high quality psychiatric treatment.

While we recognize that CHA is facing increasing financial problems, we simply cannot keep accepting the closure of essential inpatient psychiatric hospital beds as the solution. NAMI Mass certainly understands that financial distress is a reality for many hospitals, but we do not understand why psychiatric and substance abuse units are always the first places to be cut. In fact, doing so will only create a larger problem for the entire Commonwealth and certainly for the children and families who will not be able to find acute psychiatric inpatient beds.

We urge the Department of Mental Health to take steps to rectify this situation on both a short and long term basis with a long term strategy. As the entity that licenses psychiatric beds, the DMH has the responsibility to ensure access to acute inpatient psychiatric beds, especially in an age range that has very limited options. NAMI Mass stands by to support DMH in any way we can.

At present CHA is one of only three other hospitals in the entire state along with Metro West Medical Center and Franciscan Hospital for Children to provide acute care inpatient psychiatry beds for children ages 3-8, and since CHA is proposing to cut their beds for this age group the options will only become more limited and resources more depleted. How is the Department of Public Health expecting to fulfill “the capacity of alternative delivery sites to provide service” if there are not enough inpatient alternatives for this age group?

This decrease is alarming. It will leave a dearth of services that will no doubt be felt throughout the entire mental health system. We can expect that children and adolescents who do not have access to the acute care they need will be boarded in emergency rooms or worse denied the acute psychiatric care they need. Thus it is not only in the public’s best interest but the Department of Mental Health’s as well to stop these closures.

The Commonwealth must do their part to provide adequate psychiatric services to all residents and we urge the Departments of Mental Health to take immediate steps to rectify this situation. If we act now we can prevent unnecessary tragedies from devastating children and families by maintaining the essential interventions that are vital at an early age.

Sincerely,

Laurie Martinelli

Executive Director

Support Bill H.1805 which would create a commission of stakeholders

Mental Health and Substance Abuse Disorder Committee

Testimony of Laurie Martinelli, Executive Director

National Alliance on Mental Illness of Massachusetts

May 14, 2013

Bill H.1805

 Honorable Chairs and Members of the Mental Health and Substance Abuse Disorder Committee:

My name is Laurie Martinelli, and I am the Executive Director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Massachusetts (NAMI Mass).

NAMI is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness. NAMI advocates for access to services and treatment, and is steadfast in its commitment to raising awareness for all of those in need. Since our inception in 1979, NAMI has been dedicated to improving the quality of life of individuals and families affected by mental illness.

We are here today to urge the committee to support Bill H.1805 which would create a commission of stakeholders that would work together with the Department of Mental Health in its mission to implement Community Based Flexible Supports (CBFS).

CBFS services are an essential part of the Commonwealth’s mental health system. These services provide adults with autonomy in their care and support in their community. This support comes from a multitude of vendors who work with the client, whether they are living at home, in an apartment or in a group home, to develop a plan that fits their needs. The flexibility that this model gives the client is hallmark that people have come to expect from DMH.  NAMI Mass supports the work DMH has done to provide mental health services in the community.

This legislation provides an opportunity for a diverse group of stakeholders to collaborate in order to maintain and improve CBFS. Oversight of these services is crucial and will allow invested stakeholders, including family members to participate in the oversight of CBFS services.  Oversight of CBFS will help prevent human rights violations – even one violation is one too many, and this Commission will work together to keep vulnerable populations safe.

In doing so, the Commission also has the opportunity to evaluate CBFS using the expertise of a varied group of stakeholders with the goal of making their services as high quality and flexible as possible. The Commission is a proactive means of enhancing the scope and quality of community services, and NAMI Mass looks forward to being a part of it.

We urge that this bill be reported favorably by the Committee.

Thank you for your time.

Restore 9C Cuts to the FY2013 Mental Health Budget

May 15, 2013

Governor Deval Patrick
Office of the Governor
State House – Room 280
Boston, MA  02133

Re:  Restore 9C Cuts to the FY2013 Mental Health Budget

Dear Governor Patrick:

In light of continued strong revenue collections, I am writing on behalf of NAMI Massachusetts to urge you to consider restoring the 9C Cuts to the Mental Health Line Items in the FY2013 budget. Respectfully, I would suggest that restoring funding for services to the mental health community is fiscally responsible and critically necessary.

NAMI Massachusetts can appreciate the difficulty of balancing infinite needs with increasingly finite resources during times of economic distress. Making cuts to programs is never easy and we understand the dilemma you were faced with last year. Sadly, the cuts made to the variety of accounts within the Department of Mental Health budget have had a profound and detrimental impact on adults and children who were on the road to rebuilding their lives as contributing members of the community.  Restoration of these cuts will greatly help because for many people, these programs are often the last resort before costly hospitalization.

Your action to restore the funding is the right choice at the right time which will help to reduce the need for emergency rooms, homeless shelters, jails and schools to struggle with the costly effects of untreated mental illness.  NAMI Massachusetts has been working to increase funding for needed community-based mental health services and thousands of families and individuals facing challenges are counting on you at this time.

Attached is a table highlighting the accounts and programs we are asking you to restore. Thank you for your consideration of this request.

Sincerely,

Laurie Martinelli

Executive Director

ATTACHED 9C cuts

FY2013 Mid Year 9C Cuts to Mental Health Accounts

Line

Item

Description

FY12

Spending

FY 13

Before Cuts

9C Cut

5011

-0100

Department of Mental HealthAdministration and Operations

25,453,167

27,373,198

-338,057

5042

-5000

Child and Adolescent MentalHealth Services

69,399,645

76,816,757

-1,890,000

5046

-0000

Mental Health Services Including Adult Homeless and Emergency

330,141,005

346,027,150

-1,962,186

5047

-0001

Emergency Services andMental Health Care

34,596,130

35,242,254

-500,000

5095

-0015

Inpatient Facilities andCommunity-Based

Mental Health Service

143,557,523

167,313,321

-2,723,359

8000

-1800

Mental Health PublicSafety Training

125,000

125,000

-125,000

Total Cuts

     

-7,538,602

Download the NAMI Mass 9c Letter to the Governor