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Medicaid Waivers, Magic Mushrooms, and Other Texas Behavioral Health News

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The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that it has rescinded an approval to extend a federal funding agreement, known as a 1115 waiver, with the state of Texas.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.

Treating behavioral health and substance use clients in Texas? Make sure your EHR solution accounts for both state and federal documentation requirements. Contact BestNotes today to find out how our documentation features can help save you time and reduce frustration.

date:  Apr 29, 2021
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Texas Behavioral Health and Addiction Treatment News: June 2020

Behavioral health concerns remain a pressing need across the country. Here are some of the major behavioral health stories circulating in Texas in the past few weeks.

Texas A&M Nursing Partners With Rural Texas Providers

Researchers with Texas A&M University College of Nursing are forming an academic-practice partnership with rural healthcare providers at five clinical sites in Central Texas. This collaboration aims to integrate behavioral health and primary care, increase care access in the region, and provide nursing education opportunities.

This partnership is funded by a three-year, $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Human Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). The partnership at these different sites will provide primary care, led by family nurse practitioners (FNPs), that is integrated with behavioral health services. This will include onsite and telehealth care, with an emphasis on preventing and treating opioid use disorder.

Agreement Could Direct Opioid Settlement to Rural Texas

A group of Texas counties and cities have reached an agreement with the state Attorney General’s office that could allow opioid settlement funds to be directed to rural communities struggling the most with the opioid crisis. The agreement will allow Texas state and county representatives to be included in all negotiations now being conducted with opioid drug distributors and manufacturers.

Under the agreement, if a settlement is reached, an allocation structure will guarantee a 15-percent share of the settlement funds to state and local governments. The Texas Opioid Council will administer the other 70 percent to treatment programs operated by 20 regional health care partnerships across the state.

Texas Officials Exploring Mental Health Options for Inmates

Officials and mental health providers in Texas are seeking ways for county jail inmates with mental health concerns to avoid an overwhelmed state hospital system. Under the policy of “competency restoration,” most individuals in Texas who are found incompetent to stand trial must receive treatment at a state hospital. At the beginning of 2020, more than 900 individuals were on a waitlist for such treatment.

Texas is currently redesigning state hospitals to expand capacity. However, this may not alleviate the demand. Other limitations include housing for waitlisted inmates, treatment for severe psychiatric conditions, and a limited supply of rural mental health providers. Outpatient programs and jail-based, telepsychiatry programs could help reduce the waitlist. Currently, Lubbock is the state’s only mental health authority to use telemedicine inside jails, with competency restored in half the cases so far.

Telehealth Expands Mental Health Access in Rural Texas

As rural areas of Texas struggle with limited behavioral health access, the recent expansion of telehealth offers some relief. Behavioral health providers and authorities expanded their services after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott temporarily waived restrictions on telehealth in April in response to the coronavirus pandemic. This has helped provide vital support to rural areas, where residents struggle with limited access to behavioral health resources, as well as lower income and higher rates of suicide and drug overdose.

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Whether you offer onsite or telehealth behavioral health services, BestNotes is here for you. Our EHR software is designed with behavioral health clinicians in mind, with features that allow you to improve client outcomes with maximum profitability. Contact us today to learn more, or schedule a free demo.

date:  Jun 17, 2020
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