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The D.C. Behavioral Health Association's Advocacy Agenda is designed to inform our members and the public about the reforms and issues critical to a well-functioning behavioral health system.  The following highlights issues at the top of our legislative and regulatory agenda for the coming year.



Embrace health reform for the behavioral health field

Federal health reform offers a critical opportunity to expand the delivery of behavioral health services as opportunities for behavioral health are explicitly built into the Act’s changing emphasis for the future of health care. The National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare has identified twenty-two important competencies and strategies that will likely be necessary to succeed in the new “healthcare ecosystem.” DCBHA educates our members and local policy-makers to develop these opportunities. Whether it’s understanding health insurance exchanges, preparing to be a health home partner, or enhancing your revenue cycle management, DCBHA seeks to educate providers and policy-makers on what health reform means for the behavioral health field.

Ø  Learn more: Read our health reform readiness assessment.

Reduce providers’ administrative burdens

The administration of publicly-funded behavioral health services in D.C. is fractured across six health plans, four mental health benefit carve-outs of varying scope, and one substance abuse carve-out. Neither providers nor clients touch one system. The D.C. Behavioral Health Association promotes a better alignment of regulations and policies across the spectrum of behavioral health care.


Adopt deemed status accreditation

“Deemed status” occurs when a D.C. agency accepts a provider’s national accreditation as evidence that the provider can be certified as that agency’s provider.  Deemed status is a common practice in most states, and it is already accepted by two D.C. agencies for inpatient behavioral health services.  DCBHA seeks deemed status certification of community-based behavioral health programs. 

o   Learn more: Read “Deemed Status” factsheet


Create a behavioral health technology plan

D.C. needs to update its laws and approach to technology in order to prevent behavioral health providers from being excluded from health information exchange. The Mental Health Information Act needs to be amended to authorize limited information-sharing among providers treating the same patient; this technical change would bring D.C. law into alignment with federal HIPAA privacy protections. In addition, D.C. needs to ensure that technology allows providers to segment mental health and addiction treatment information.

o   Learn more: Read “Amend the Mental Health Act” factsheet


Finally, DCBHA seeks to ensure that D.C. supports the adoption of interoperable electronic health records. Increasingly, D.C. agencies require providers in their networks to use the agency’s own technology system. A provider straddling multiple systems must therefore maintain duplicate entry health records. By emphasizing technology products instead of functional interoperability, D.C. agencies drive up costs and duplication of patient health records.

o   Learn more: Read “Behavioral Health Technology Plan” factsheet.



Measure access to care

Effective interventions are ones that occur when the client needs them. Too often, we hear anecdotes suggesting that many Medicaid beneficiaries face months-long delays in accessing psychiatrists or therapists for addiction or mental health treatment. DCBHA will work with D.C. agencies – including the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services, Department of Mental Health, the Department of Health Care Finance – to ensure that the city accurately tracks whether access to care occurs promptly.


Support value-based purchasing decisions

Taxpayer dollars are a scarce resource and must be invested wisely. DCBHA supports agencies’ use of performance-based or value-based purchasing decisions. To that end, DCBHA will work with agencies to ensure that scorecards and measures reflect sound, fair and accurate measures. Simultaneously, DCBHA works with its members to promote the use of outcome measures and high-fidelity practices.



Create equitable financing for behavioral health

Many Medicaid-funded behavioral health services face financial challenges. Too often, the financing of behavioral health services does not keep pace with changing demands and pressures on providers. DCBHA supports annual rate reviews and appropriate adjustments to ensure that the financing of community-based behavioral health services matches the regulatory, policy and business demands on providers.

Ø  Learn more: Read “Falling Behind: Stagnating Rates for Behavioral Health Services” factsheet.



Offer executive education and support

Each year, DCBHA offers, organizes and coordinates several executive-level trainings for its members. From system structures to in-depth dives on health reform topics, DCBHA creates the forum for executive education in the local behavioral health field. In 2012, DCBHA hosted its first-ever annual conference, with topics on health homes, documentation, clinical supervision, and high-fidelity, evidence-based practice.

Ø  Learn more: See our upcoming events at http://www.dcbehavioralhealth.org/events.