There are a lot of changes happening in Texas that could have significant implications for behavioral health. Here are some of the big mental-health stories impacting the Lone Star State.
Biden Administration Rescinds Changes to Texas 1115 Waiver
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that it has rescinded an approval to extend a federal funding agreement, known as a 1115 waiver, with the state of Texas. Under the 1115 waiver, hospitals are reimbursed for “uncompensated care” provided to patients without health insurance. Texas has used it to pay for certain healthcare projects, including mental health services that serve low-income Texans.
The extension, originally granted late in the Trump administration, would have continued those hospital reimbursements until September 2030. The waiver now expires September 30, 2022. Reversing that decision pushes Texas toward expanding Medicaid, according to two federal health officials cited by the Washington Post.
Psychedelic Drugs for Veteran PTSD?
A proposed Texas House bill would order a study of the use of psilocybin, also known as “magic mushrooms,” to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in veterans. Texas Rep. Alex Dominguez authored the proposal, House Bill 1802, which is scheduled for public hearing.
The bill would direct the state’s Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) to conduct the study with a health sciences university and a Veterans Affairs hospital. HHSC would also be asked to do a review of prior studies on the use of psilocybin, MDMA, and ketamine.
Lack of Maternal Mental Health Treatment Costs Texas Billions, Report Says
Mothers and children with untreated mental health needs cost Texas about $2.2 billion during the child’s first five years of life, new research says. The study, found that about 13.2 percent of pregnant or postpartum women had a maternal mental health condition in 2019. For each mother with untreated maternal mental health conditions, the average cost was $24,796 the first year after their child’s birth and $44,460 through the child’s fifth birthday.
Researchers calculated the cost by examining the cost of care for women with untreated mental health conditions, such as anxiety and depression, and the loss of income from work absenteeism. Cost of care tended to increase for children due to preterm birth, low birth weight, reduced breastfeeding, behavioral or developmental disorders, and other childhood heath issues.
A few of the recommendations from the report authors include:
Expanded funding for healthcare
Connecting pediatricians to psychiatrists for patient phone consultations
Increased access to group-based prenatal care and pediatric care programs
Harris Co. Sheriff’s Office Expands Mental Health Program
The Harris County, Texas, sheriff’s office is expanding a telepsychiatry program that allows law enforcement officers to respond more appropriately to mental health incidents. Under the program, a deputy uses an iPad to connect a person in distress with a mental health professional to help deescalate the situation.
In 2017, the Harris County, Texas, sheriff’s office became the first in the nation to invest in telepsychiatry. The program has grown from three deputies in 2017 to nearly 150 deputies in 2021. Sergeant Jose Gomez says the program is expanding to the office’s constable agencies.
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