News & Announcements

Recovery Support in Indian Tribal Communities: Anishnaabek Healing Circle (Access to Recovery)

Posted: June 17, 2012

In a series of recovery advocacy interviews by William L. White, Recovery Support in Indian Tribal Communities, he recently interviewed Eva Petoskey, MS. Petoskey is the Director of the Anishnaabek Healing Circle (Access to Recovery), Inter-Tribal Council of Michigan and in the interview she discusses her work developing recovery support services within Indian tribal communities.

The goal of the Anishnaabek Healing Circle is to provide a full continuum of care, in a cost effective manner, to the largest number of people, in a culturally-competent, respectful manner to clients who have a genuine, free and independent choice of providers.

Read the full interview (pdf).

A Healthy People 2020 Spotlight on LGBT Health: Transgender Health Issues Webinar

Posted: June 15, 2012

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) conducted a series of webinars highlighting the Healthy People 2020 focus on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) health. Healthy People is an initiative that provides science-based, 10-year national objectives for improving the health of all Americans. One of the goals of Healthy People 2020 is to improve the health, safety, and well-being of LGBT individuals. View all the webinar videos on you tube. Watch different parts of the webinar by clicking on the links below:

Learn more about Healthy People 2020 focus on LGBT Health.

Eliminating Health Disparities through a Culturally & Linguistically Centered Health Care Approach

Posted: June 13, 2012

The Hogg Foundation and the federal Office of Minority Health (OMH) have released -- Enhancing the Delivery of Health Care: Eliminating Health Disparities through a Culturally & Linguistically Centered Integrated Health Care Approach, a collaborative project between OMH and the Hogg Foundation. The publication is based on research conducted by the foundation and proceedings from the 2011 national consensus meeting titled “Eliminating Behavioral Health Disparities through the Integration of Behavioral Health and Primary Care Services for Racial and Ethnic Minority Populations and Those with Limited English Proficiency (LEP).” The consensus meeting, which was hosted at the Hogg Foundation, brought together national experts in health, mental health, substance use and addiction, integrated health care, and cultural and linguistic competency.

At the meeting, national leaders proposed ways to deliver integrated health care services in culturally and linguistically appropriate ways to racial and ethnic minorities and populations with LEP. The report shares the best practices, insights and strategies that were discussed during the meeting. The consensus statements and recommendations are designed to inform a broad audience of health and behavioral health care providers, educators, advocates, consumers, youth and families, researchers, policy makers and other stakeholders on health equity for all through integrated health care.

Read more on the Hogg Foundation website. Download the report (pdf).

Clinic Helps Low-income Patients Meet Mental and Physical Health Needs

Posted: June 12, 2012

Dr. Chantee Vavasseur knew that an emergency room visit wasn't a good solution for someone with out-of-control diabetes or soaring blood pressure, but what could she do? The psychiatrist's patients at a public mental health clinic in southeast Houston often had no place to go for primary care, and their other medical problems made it difficult to manage their mental illness. "They're irritable. They're anxious," said Vavasseur. Increasing their psychiatric medications often meant more side effects. And the problems could be exacerbated by their physical ailments. "We try to teach our patients, 'You've got to manage both,' " she said.

That has become easier over the past few months, since El Centro de Corazón, an 18-year-old social service organization that began in Houston's East End, opened a primary care clinic in the Mental Health Mental Retardation Authority of Harris County's southeast Houston service center. MHMRA's clients suffer from major depression, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder; the southeast-side location serves 2,000 adults and 800 children every month, according to spokeswoman Jazmin Gonzalez. Vavasseur said people with other mental health problems, including anxiety disorders, are screened and directed to additional community resources.

The doctor acknowledged, however, that "a big gap" exists between her patients' needs and the services available to them. Everyone talks about the advantages of coordinating mental health and primary care, but achieving that goal is still unusual, especially when different agencies are involved. To Diane Jackson, an MHMRA client who began seeing El Centro medical director Dr. Kelvin Shepherd earlier this year, the arrangement makes sense. "It's perfect," she said. People may come to MHMRA to visit a caseworker or get psychiatric medications, she said. "And we might have a little ache or pain. We might have a cough." Her blood pressure was spiraling out of control when she first saw Shepherd. He prescribed medication to bring it down last spring. Like many MHMRA clients, the 52-year-old Jackson had qualified for services at the Harris County Hospital District. But she discovered when she called for an appointment in February that her eligibility had expired.

Reapplying is a tedious process. And even patients who are eligible aren't guaranteed an appointment. A hospital district survey last fall determined that 340 people a day were turned away because no primary care appointments were available. Others simply don't have the patience to deal with accessing public health services. "Some of our folks, at the first roadblock, they give up," Vavasseur said. The El Centro clinic is intended to stop people from giving up. It's not restricted to patients served by MHMRA, although Shepherd said almost 90 percent of those it has seen are MHMRA clients or their family members. Patients are charged on a sliding scale. The cost of medications is always an issue. "You can't just give them a prescription and expect them to fill it," Shepherd noted. He refers patients to pharmacies that offer $4 and $5 generic prescriptions, and there are other options for patients who can't afford even those prices.

Shepherd said early data indicate that most patients are doing better at managing their hyper­tension, diabetes and other chronic conditions.

Read more on the Houston Chronicle website.


Open for Comment:Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Home & Community-Based Services State Plan

Posted: June 11, 2012

On May 3rd, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services released a proposed rule relating to the 1915(i) Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) State plan option which would revise Medicaid regulations to define and describe State plan HCBS under the Social Security Act as added by the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 (DRA) and amended by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). This proposed rule would:

  • Permit states to receive federal financial participation (FFP) for the provision of HCBS to Medicaid recipients who do not require an institutional level of care, and who, therefore, would not be eligible for HCBS under states’ waiver programs, such as children and adults who have mental health or addiction disorders.
  • Offer States new flexibility in providing necessary and appropriate services to elderly and disabled populations, including children and adults who have mental health or addiction disorders.
  • Implement Section 2601 of the ACA, authorizing CMS to approve HCBS waivers for dual-eligibles for an initial period of up to five years.
  • Include an additional exception to the reassignment prohibition to allow direct Medicaid payments on behalf of certain practitioners to a third party for benefits such as health insurance.
  • Define an HCBS setting, which CMS would use in the context of HCBS waivers, the Community First Choice (CFC) Option program and state plan HCBS

The National Council has created a summary of key provisions. They will be submitting comments to CMS and seek your feedback on this proposed rule; please use this online survey  to share your comments on the proposed rule. Please submit your comments to by Wednesday, June 20, 2012 so they can make sure they get incorporated into the National Council’s comments which must be submitted by July 2nd.

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