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Friday update – 6-29-12

Greetings faithful readers. Okay, everyone take a deep breath and recalibrate your ACA senses. The Network is quite envious of SOC alum Jim Wotring from Georgetown University, who just strolled on over to the Supremes hangout yesterday, walked right in and sat right down (deep props to the Rooftop Singers) and instantly became a part of a most historical event. We begin this Friday Update with our take on the Supreme Court decision and conclude with our usual cavalcade of new items on the website.

What the Supreme Court decision means for the Children's Mental Health Network
For those of you who may have been hiding under a rock for the past 24 hours and haven't yet heard the news, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) has upheld the Affordable Care Act. The news from the Supremes is helpful in that there is one less contentious issue (constitutionality) to get in the way of the difficult task of improving health care for all Americans in the most politically polarizing time since reconstruction. Faithful readers know that we have been diligently tracking the debate with all of its intrigue and political permutations (type "Affordable Care Act" in our search engine for your own walk down recent memory lane). Regardless of presidential elections, repeals or no repeals, what stays consistent for the Children's Mental Health Network is our focus on the real issues of choice that families who have youth with emotional challenges face. Our clarion call continues to be for family involvement in the decision-making forums crafting health exchanges; the promotion of high quality wraparound services; family to family peer support; and adequate funding and rate structures so that mental health providers can actually provide services that work, are cost effective and result in positive outcomes. All of these need to be at the center of the implementation of health care reform. The Network will continue to fight for the integrity of a system of care approach across health care.

Of particular interest to us is the decision by the Supreme Court to make Medicaid expansion an option. Luckily, this was the only aspect of the law that was struck down, however it leaves a very important decision up to states. Unfortunately for many low-income Americans with mental health challenges, the Court has ruled that the ACA's expansion of the Medicaid program to newly eligible individuals with incomes below 133% of poverty is now up to states. This means that in states that do not choose this option, significant numbers of low-income Americans will remain uninsured. The jury is out as to how many (if any) states will actually choose not to expand Medicaid, but reaction is already beginning to come in from political leaders in states who are questioning whether or not they should participate.

So we will continue to encourage you to saddle up and join us in keeping our focus laser sharp on what is most important for youth and families and the providers who work with them. Learn what provisions in the law are specifically designed to benefit children and families with this handy timeline in the Health Care Reform section of our website.

Wanna get the federal dollars? Pay attention - agencies will have to show a return on the investment on their programs
There is a front moving in on the federal funding landscape and it is bringing with it a renewed emphasis on evidence and evaluation. In two memos last month, the Office of Management and Budget made it clear that agency budgets will need to be based on evidence showing program effectiveness. This will have an amplified impact on smaller agencies receiving federal funds. CMHNetwork faithful who are thinking about applying for federal funding would benefit from taking some time to better understand how the landscape is changing for 2014 and prepare accordingly. Read more here.

Time to make a business case for the Child Mental Health Initiative
Okay Network faithful, dig out the old powerpoints, position papers, and policy briefs you have used over the years to help state and local leaders understand the value of a system of care approach. We are collecting anything and everything that will help make a strong business case. In order to do that we need your hard evidence of how you successfully saved money in the long run, improved outcomes and generally made a difference for families and the communities in which they live. Details here.

Keep alternatives to Psychiatric Residential Treatment Centers a viable option for families - Support S.3289
We have an important opportunity to make a big impact on federal legislation that will help families across the country who are caring for a child with intensive mental health needs. For the past several years, nine states have had a Children's Mental Health Demonstration Waiver. This waiver has given families a choice when it came to treatment for their child with intensive mental health needs. Before the waiver, families had to place their child in a Psychiatric Residential Treatment Center (PRTC) often far from their home, making it difficult to see their child. The waiver provided an option for families to keep their child at home with intensive services "wrapped" around their child and family. The Demonstration Waiver will end on September 30, 2012, unless it is reauthorized by Congress. Senators Charles Grassley (Republican from Iowa) and John Kerry (Democrat from Massachusetts) have introduced the Children's Mental Health Accessibility Act (S.3289) that would keep the option for children, even children with private insurance, to remain with their families and receive an array of community-based treatment services through wraparound. It is vital that legislators in Washington understand how important this Act is to families. Special thanks to Jane Walker of the Maryland Coalition of Families for helping to push this. Details on how you can help here.

Georgetown Training Institutes, July 25 - 29, 2012
Are you a youth leader age 13 – 22? Want to learn strategies to bring change in to your community and to communities around the country? If the answer is yes then you should check out the Youth Track at the Training Institutes in Orlando, Florida. Find out how you can participate here.

Linking Medical Home and Children's Mental Health: Listening to Massachusetts Families
Massachusetts is working hard to figure out how to address privacy concerns and concerns about children in general as it builds a health information exchange and integrates mental health into electronic health records. Lisa Lambert, Executive Director of the Parent Professional Advocacy League (PPAL) of Massachusetts and an Advisory Council member of the CMHNetwork, shared with us this morning an illuminating report prepared by PPAL detailing how families who have children with mental health challenges feel about privacy issues. Get the details here.

Don't miss what we have for you below. Just as important, only  better with a second cup of Joe…

Let us know what you need from the Network!
We love feedback so let us know how we can improve the website to better meet your needs. Contact us here.

As always, thank you for your continued support of the Children's Mental Health Network,

Scott Bryant-Comstock
President & CEO
http://cmhnetwork.org

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