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Jacquelyn Sommer

, National Council for Behavioral Health

Health Home Participants: Build the Case for Integration Through Data

October 13, 2016 | Integrated Care | Medicaid | Comments
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At a recent BHECON forum in Normal, Illinois, attendees heard from legislators and experts in primary and behavioral health care integration about the growing importance of data in making the case for increased investment in services. With Illinois facing a continued budget crisis amid the rollout of its planned Medicaid transformation, the takeaway was clear: behavioral health providers should begin planning how they can collect and report data on cost and quality of care in order to position themselves for success.

At the forum, a bipartisan panel of five state legislators shared their forecast for the upcoming Illinois legislative session and offered advice on how behavioral health providers can engage legislators to build support for our field’s priorities. While personal stories from consumers and clinics affected by budget cuts are the most important advocacy tool, the legislators also stressed that data on cost savings and outcomes will help clinics persuade the state to invest in community behavioral health even in a tight budget environment.

Attendees also heard from program administrators in Missouri and Illinois who had overseen their organizations’ transition to a Medicaid health home model. The panelists highlighted the improved health outcomes and cost reductions they achieved when they used data as the backbone of their decision-making. Health homes are at the core of Illinois’ proposed Medicaid transformation waiver; yet, throughout the forum, providers expressed concern about the fact that current reimbursement rates were not covering the cost of providing services. Providers underscored that they are already struggling to cover cost and provide services, so expanding their data utilization and health information technology services would be an added struggle. The Excellence in Mental Health Act, through the creation of CCBHCs, is one way for states to strengthen clinics’ ability to meet new reporting requirements. For more on the Excellence Act and health homes, read our fact sheet.

The Behavioral Health & Economics Network the National Council for Mental Wellbeing is working with state partners on a series of public forums.  States will participate in forums uniting diverse stakeholders at the state level to examine and advance policy reforms that leverage states’ current behavioral health access initiatives. BHECON participants include individuals and organizations recognized for their commitment to improving lives of people living with serious mental illness and incorporates representatives from the behavioral health, criminal justice, public safety sectors, along with individuals working in the greater medical field.  BHECON has partnered with academic research institutions to provide data and analysis specific to the topics presented at the forums and has curated national data in support of this effort.