This morning, MHA Annual Conference attendees had the opportunity to hear from three federal officials who are living and breathing Health Reform implementation. MHA’s board chair John Morris moderated a session with Jeff Crowley, director of the Office of National AIDS Policy and senior advisor on Disability Policy at the White House, Barbara Edwards, director of the Disabled and Elderly Health Programs Group at CMS, and John O’Brien, Senior Advisor for Health Finance at SAMHSA. Each panelist highlight how important this new legislation will be for the behavioral health community, and are working very hard in fast paced offices to begin the implementation process.
The Health Reform law is huge and complicated, and the panelists did a short overview of some of the applicable provisions for behavioral health, highlighting its potential to improve quality, expand access, promote integration with primary care, and perhaps most importantly promote person-centered planning and community integration. John O’Brien and his team at SAMHSA are working on developing a “good and modern behavioral health system package” to be advise HHS on appropriate services to include in any benefits design. MHA and other stakeholders are weighing in on this important work to ensure recovery-oriented, person-centered services are key parts of the benefits package.
The health reform train is moving very fast, and we don’t want to be left behind! MHA will continue to look for opportunities to get involved in implementation activities at the federal, state and community levels, and will keep everyone up-to-date as we do.
For more information on behavioral health provisions in the Health Reform statute, visit MHA’s website