NAMI
National Alliance on Mental Illness
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Public Policy Update

January 8, 2015
Chris Bouneff, Executive Director

Greetings, NAMI Oregon public policy followers --

The 2015 Legislature is on the cusp of opening day. Next week lawmakers gather for what are termed "organizational days" as they gear up for the true start of the session on Feb. 2. There aren't yet a ton of details around what legislation we will see advance this year, but details should be forthcoming in the next couple of weeks.

NAMI will hold its regular "Lobby Day" for members to learn more details about the 2015 session and our legislative priorities, and they will have the opportunity to meet with their lawmakers and/or legislative staff to reinforce our message that mental health and addiction funding and access remain a paramount issue facing our state and communities.

If you haven't already registered, we hope you'll consider joining us on Thursday, Feb. 12, for our lobby day. You can register online at: http://links.namior.org/day

NAMI Policy Priorities

In keeping with the results from our survey of membership, we will have two major proactive priorities this legislative session:

1) NAMI Oregon's housing incentive fund initiative. We will again propose legislation creating a formal housing incentive fund that will provide up to 20 percent of construction/development costs for new housing for individuals living with mental illness. You can read a summary of our legislation here: http://goo.gl/SdcvRm.

We don't have a bill number just yet. Once a bill number is assigned, we'll get the word out.

We know it's a concept that will work. A modified version of our concept received $5 million from the 2014 short legislative session. That money was awarded to developers in the fall through a competitive process and could ultimately lead to about $25 million in total new housing if all projects come online -- both independent housing and respite housing, which are desperately needed in many Oregon communities. That's a pretty good return on investment for the state.

Funding should be available for 2015-17 biennium that starts July 1. In the 2013 special legislative session, lawmakers approved an additional tobacco tax with funds dedicated to mental health services. They set aside $10 million for housing, which provided funds for our incentive fund concept. We hope legislators will continue that $10 million allocation for housing, with most or all of that funding directed to new housing development through our concept.

2) Continue state investments in Oregon's publicly funded mental health system. In the 2013 regular and special legislative sessions, the Legislature made significant new investments in our mental health system. The children's system received funding that was termed close to "fully funding" current need, and the adult system received some major investments in targeted areas.

The governor's recommended budget continues those investments for a full biennium and adds a bit more to the pot to ensure that providers of mental health services can maintain their caseloads. NAMI supports those investments and hopes that legislators consider additional investments.

Other issues we'll be watching:

  • Medication access. Legislation has once again been floated to severely restrict access to mental health medications. Given the varied individual responses to atypical antipsychotic and antidepressant medications, we will continue our efforts to ensure open access to these critical medications.

  • Integration of physical health and mental health. Oregon is now about two years into its grand experiment to transform health care delivery with mixed results thus far. Understandably, putting in place the new Coordinated Care Organizations (CCOs) that are now managing the Oregon Health Plan has taken a great deal of time and effort. This could be a pivotal year in the transformation process as CCOs move from their formation stages to tackling big issues such as improving the delivery of care for individuals and families dealing with mental health and addiction disorders.

  • Oregon's agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice. We are now entering year three of a four-year agreement between the state of Oregon and the U.S. Department of Justice over the lack of services and living environments for adults living with serious mental illness. The state and federal government have gone back and forth the past two years over which data and outcome metrics would be tracked. This year, the two sides begin discussing gaps in the system and additional improvements that must be made.

The agreement is supposed to lead to improvements in the system of care available to individuals living with serious mental illness. However, the agreement has mostly flown under the radar. Our hope is that lawmakers, the state of Oregon, and Coordinated Care Organizations come together under the banner of this agreement to pursue more aggressive action. You can read the original letter memorializing the agreement here: http://goo.gl/RtvqPZ

As always, please feel free to contact me at chris@namior.org with questions or comments.

Thanks,

 

Chris

2014 Public Policy Survey Results

NAMI member and allies overwhelmingly picked housing as their top priority in our recent public policy priorities survey. Click here to read the results and summary of the survey, which will be discussed at June's public policy meeting.

NAMI Oregon Releases Health Transformation Guide

Many Oregonians may still be puzzled by the term "health transformation," but the changes forthcoming in Oregon's Medicaid system could vastly improve health care in our state or just be another shot in the dark that fails to hit its intended target. NAMI Oregon has long advocated for an integrated health care system that focuses on individual and family health. To that end, NAMI Oregon is pleased to issue its "Policy Guide to Health Transformation and Integration in Oregon" that collects all of NAMI's various positions on health care transformation into one document. This will serve as our guiding vision for our advocacy on health care reform.

Please see previous Public Policy Updates below.

Previous Public Policy Updates

Stay involved with us - sign up for our e-news and legislative alerts, and click the links below to view minutes from Public Policy Committee meetings.

Tell us your story - if you have a personal story that illustrates the need for changes in statewide mental health policy and you would like to become an advocate for policy improvement, complete our Advocate Information Form and return it to us today.

HIPAA Privacy Rule Clarification

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has issued a clarification on when it is appropriate for mental health care providers to share information protected under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy Rule, especially with family members and loved ones. The HIPAA Privacy Rule allows for health care providers to share information about a patient's care with family members not only when permission has been expressly granted, but also in circumstances when the patient may be unable to grant permission but the provider deems sharing information will be in the patient's best interest. For details, read the HIPPA Privacy Rule guidance.

Communication Checklists

Communication between care providers and family members of patients seeking treatment for mental illness improves the quality of care and reduces the risk of suicide for these patients. While confidentiality is a fundamental component of a therapeutic relationship, misunderstandings by clinicians about the limitations created by HIPAA, FERPA, and state laws for preserving confidentiality has caused unnecessary concern regarding disclosure of relevant clinical information. 

To address this deficit of communication, the Oregon Council on Child and Adolescent Psychiatry published a checklist for mental health providers in 2012.  The authors, Dr. Stewart Newman and Jerry Gabay (NAMI Oregon Board Member), have created a companion checklist to help families seek information from providers. Click here to view both the provider checklist and the family member checklist.


Related Files

Public Policy Committee meeting minutes - August 2010 (PDF File)
Public Policy Committee meeting minutes - September 2010 (PDF File)
Public Policy Committee meeting minutes - November 2010 (PDF File)
Public Policy Committee meeting minutes - February 2011 (PDF File)
Public Policy Committee meeting minutes - March 2011 (PDF File)
Public Policy Committee meeting minutes - April 2011 (PDF File)
Public Policy Committee meeting minutes - May 2011 (PDF File)
Public Policy Committee meeting minutes - October 2011 (PDF File)
Public Policy Committee meeting minutes - November 2011 (PDF File)
Public Policy Committee meeting minutes - January 2012 (PDF File)
Public Policy Committee meeting minutes - February 2012 (PDF File)
Public Policy Committee meeting minutes - March 2012 (PDF File)
Public Policy Committee meeting minutes - June 2012 (PDF File)
Public Policy Committee meeting minutes - August 2012 (PDF File)
Public Policy Committee meeting minutes - November 2012 (PDF File)
Public Policy Committee meeting minutes - December 2012 (PDF File)
Public Policy Committee meeting minutes - January 2013 (PDF File)
Public Policy Committee meeting minutes - March 2013 (PDF File)
Public Policy Committee meeting minutes - December 2013 (PDF File)
Advocate Information Form (Word Document)
June 2011 Public Policy Update (PDF File)
July 2011 Public Policy Update (PDF File)
October 2011 Public Policy Update (PDF File)
November 2011 Public Policy Update (PDF File)
December 2011 Public Policy Update (PDF File)
January 2012 Public Policy Update (PDF File)
February 2012 Public Policy Update (PDF File)
March 2012 Public Policy Update (PDF File)
May 2012 Public Policy Update (PDF File)
August 2012 Public Policy Update (PDF File)
October 2012 Public Policy Update (PDF File)
February 2013 Public Policy Update (PDF File)
March 2013 Public Policy Update (PDF File)
April 2013 Public Policy Update (PDF File)
July 2013 Public Policy Update (PDF File)
December 2013 Public Policy Update (PDF File)
January 2014 Public Policy Update (PDF File)
March 2014 Public Policy Update (PDF File)
October 2014 Public Policy Update (PDF File)
CCO Basics Fact Sheet (PDF File)
CCOs By County (PDF File)
DOJ Civil Agreement (PDF File)
2013 Legislative Priorities (PDF File)
Housing Bill Summary (PDF File)
Budget Fact Sheet (PDF File)
Medication Access Fact Sheet (PDF File)
Human Services and Housing Committee list (PDF File)
2014 Public Policy Survey (PDF File)

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