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Regional Policy Council
Mental Health America's goal is to partner with our affiliate field to initiate, advocate for, and implement federal and state policies that positively affect the lives of children, youth, and adults with mental health and substance use conditions. MHA established in 2009 a Regional Policy Council (RPC) to work with MHA's Public Policy and Advocacy Department to achieve these policy goals in a coordinated and effective manner. The RPC is comprised of nine of MHA's most knowledgeable affiliate public policy or executive directors.
2013 ISSUE FORUMS
- Issue Forum #1 - March 7th, Washington, DC
- Issue Forum #2 - June 27th, San Antonio, TX
- Issue Forum #3 - July 29th, Chicago, IL
- Issue Forum #4 - November 26th, Newark, NJ
- Issue Forum #5 - December 12th, Washington, DC
In 2013, MHA and the RPC will work with its various constituencies and partners to address several issues related to ACA and MHPAEA implementation. Although these issues may change depending on policy developments at the federal and state levels and may vary slightly based on the specific needs of each region, we expect to focus on the follow policy issues:
- Medicaid Coverage Expansion. Advocacy to promote adoption of the Medicaid expansion as well as policy issues related to infrastructure and benefit design will be critical, including enrollment procedures, scope of services offered, and health information technology practices to monitor quality.
- Medicaid Managed Care. MHA is concerned with the inevitable move of many fee-for-service state Medicaid programs to managed care. States are making decisions about the best process to move health and mental health services to managed care contracts. MHA will advocate for consumer-focused managed care practices that do not restrict access and that improve care coordination and quality, while promoting recovery-oriented, patient centered practices.
- Establishment of State Health Insurance Exchanges. In addition to the expansion of Medicaid, ACA also seeks to increase the number of individuals covered by insurance through the establishment of state-based Exchanges or marketplaces. Open enrollment for the Exchanges is set to occur in fall of 2013, so MHA will need to be engaged in state level decisions.
- Essential Health Benefits. States are currently choosing benchmark plans on which the benefits of participating Exchange plans must be based. MHA is concerned with the benchmark plan process and the ways states will ensure that MHPAEA is enforced and mental health and addiction treatment services are adequate for those purchasing plans in the Exchanges.
- Primary Care/Behavioral Health Integration. The ACA includes several provisions to promote the integration of primary, behavioral health and other specialty care to better treat the entire person. We continue to advocate for a strong role for behavioral health care, given the high prevalence of co-morbidity of mental health, substance use, and other chronic physical conditions like diabetes, hypertension, and cardiac disease.
- Prevention of Mental Health and Substance Use Conditions. MHA will work to protect the Prevention and Public Health Fund and other important provisions of the ACA that help prevent behavioral health problems and promote the health and well-being of all Americans.
- Funding for mental health and addiction services and supports. MHA will continue to oppose cuts to and champion increases for federal and state funding of services and supports for people living with, or at risk of, mental health and substance use conditions.
MHA and the RPC aim to address these policy issues through Regional Meetings, MHA Headquarter Meetings, Issue Forums, Issue Briefs, the MHA Annual Conference and RPC-National Communication.
2015 REGIONAL POLICY COUNCIL REPRESENTATIVES
Barbara Johnston, Director of Advocacy, MHA in New Jersey
Represents: CT, DC, DE, MD, NJ, NY, PA, RI, & VT
Ben Harrington, Executive Director, MHA of East Tennessee
Represents: AL, KY, LA, MS, TN, TX
Ellis Fields, Executive Director, MHA of Central Carolinas
Represents: FL, GA, NC, SC, VA, WV
Moe Keller, Vice President of Public Affairs and Systems Advocacy, MHA of Colorado
Represents: CO, MT, ND, NM, OK
Rusty Selix, Executive Director of Policy and Advocacy, MHA of California
Represents: CA, HI, OR
Shel Gross, Director of Public Policy, MHA of Wisconsin
Represents: IA, IL, IN, KS, MI, MO, NE, OH, WI
Laurie Barnett Levine, Executive Director, MHA of Westmoreland County
Bill Kelly, Director of Public Policy and Government Affairs, MHA of Greater Houston
2015 REGIONAL POLICY COUNCIL SPONSORS
Mental Health America would like to thank our generous sponsors for supporting the 2015 Regional Policy Council.