Idaho is facing plenty of changes related to behavioral health, including a new naloxone distribution program, proposed changes for housing high-risk patients, and training for educators. Here’s a look at some of the major stories that could impact behavioral health providers and clients in this state.
Some Individuals With Severe Mental Illness Still Go to Idaho’s Prisons
Idaho has struggled for decades to create a secure facility to treat potentially dangerous individuals with mental illness. To this day, high-risk patients may enter a prison cell rather than a hospital bed, even without committing a serious crime. Mental health advocates warn that the state could be sued for this approach, especially as other states phase out similar practices.
Several facilities have been proposed and funding approved over the years, but no new psychiatric facility for high-risk individuals has yet opened. In November 2023, Idaho’s building advisory council approved a $25 million facility where the Department of Health and Welfare would provide patient care and the Department of Correction would provide security.
New K-12 Program for Educators Focuses on Children’s Behavioral Health
ECHO Idaho, a digital professional education project, is offering a new K-12 mental health program. Since September 2023, state educators and clinicians have been able to use ECHO Idaho’s program to participate in a once- or twice-monthly training series on behavioral health and substance use disorders. So far, 40 Idaho schools have had staff members participate.
Project ECHO (Extension for Community Health Outcomes) began in New Mexico in 2003 to help spread health information during a hepatitis outbreak. ECHO Idaho formally launched in 2018 through a partnership with University of Idaho and University of Washington School of Medicine. ECHO Idaho also plans to launch a K-12 youth suicide prevention series.
New Idaho Behavioral Health Plan Set to Launch in July
Idaho is launching a new organization that will be responsible for all behavioral health services in the state. This Idaho Behavioral Health Plan (IBHP) is scheduled to begin July 1, 2024. This is meant to streamline the state’s “fractured” behavioral health system, says Division of Behavioral Health Administrator Ross Edmunds. The state chose Magellan Health to oversee this program.
This change comes after several legal battles over which private company would operate Idaho’s Medicaid mental health services and receive $1.2 billion over four years. Optum Health, the previous contractor, and Beacon Health have both sued the state, arguing they wrongfully lost the contract to operate IBHP. Two Idaho district court judges recently ruled that they did not have the authority to review how the state awarded this contract.
Idaho Resumes Naloxone Program Under Legal Changes
Idaho organizations are resuming naloxone distribution after a 2023 state law allowed only law enforcement and medical agencies to receive federally funded naloxone. This change put the overdose drug’s distribution on pause for months.
Now, the Division of Behavioral Health at Idaho Health and Welfare is partnering with other organizations, such as Kootenai County Fire & Rescue in northern Idaho, to get the medication into more hands. Organizations can request naloxone online through the Division of Behavioral Health or the Division of Public Health’s Drug Overdose Prevention Program. Training can be made available through local public health departments.
Are you a behavioral health provider located in Idaho? Then you need the right tools to help you grow your practice in the midst of industry changes. BestNotes offers customizable EHR solutions so you can reduce your workplace stress while still offering your clients the best care. Contact us today to learn more!