Several major behavioral health stories have emerged out of Georgia recently. From mental health parity laws to mental illness research to opioid lawsuits, here is a roundup of big news from around the state.
Georgia’s Mental Health Parity Law Takes Effect
Georgia’s new Mental Health Parity Act took effect in July 2022. For the first time in the state, all health insurance plans must cover mental health conditions at the same level as physical conditions. This law is meant to prevent patients from being denied medically necessary treatment and expand the availability of affordable behavioral health services. Under the new law, insurers are required to collect and report to the state data on parity compliance.
Other changes in the law include:
- More law enforcement training, with changes to the process under which police officers can take an at-risk person to treatment or an emergency evaluation
- Funding for more mental health crisis centers across Georgia
- Establishment of a loan forgiveness program for people studying to become mental health professionals
- Funding to hire a new mental health parity officer in the state insurance department to oversee the law’s implementation and investigate potential violations
Georgia State University Research Could Help Mental Illness Diagnosis
Georgia State University’s TReNDS Center has published research that could speed up diagnosis of numerous mental disorders. Writing in Nature Scientific Reports seven scientists from Georgia State describe how they built artificial intelligence models that could read and interpret enormous amounts of data from functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans. These scans measure dynamic brain activity based on subtle changes in blood flow.
Researchers led by Sergey Plis, associate professor of computer science and neuroscience, first trained the AI models on a dataset so that it “learned” basic fMRI imaging and brain function. Then, the researchers used datasets from more than 1,200 individuals with autism, schizophrenia, or Alzheimer’s disease.
The algorithm was able to detect when the brain imaging data was most likely associated with a particular mental disorder. Researchers hope to use this type of algorithm to find markers for and predict the risk for these diseases in individuals. This could help persons with mental illness receive more effective treatment sooner.
Georgia Families Accuse Opioid Distributors in Trial
In a trial that began earlier this month, 21 plaintiffs in Georgia are accusing opioid distributors of illegal drug dealing. The case, Poppell v. Cardinal Health Inc, is being tried in Georgia’s Glynn County Superior Court.
The plaintiffs include children of parents who died of opioid overdoses and the grandparent of a child who was born with addiction symptoms and died in infancy. The distributors include Cardinal Health Inc, McKesson Corp, and JM Smith Corp.
The plaintiffs have accused the distributors of filling illegitimate pharmacy orders and failing to report suspicious opioid purchases. The companies have denied the allegations, saying that they did not cause the drug abuse.
Behavioral health providers across Georgia and the rest of the country are seeing major changes in their field. Staying on top of regulatory changes can be challenging.
That’s why BestNotes’ behavioral health EHR offers ready-to-use clinical documentation features that automatically update to federal, state, and county standards, plus those from Joint Commission and CARF. Contact us today to learn how to keep your practice organized, efficient, and profitable.