Conversation Underway on Mental Health Service Reform

From Disability Rights Oregon, March 27 2009

On March 19, Senator Alan Bates and Representative Tina Kotek, co-chairs of the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Human Services (DHS), released a memorandum entitled: System Reform for Mental Health and Addiction Services.

The memo stated that in order to maximize the quality, effectiveness, and efficiency of Oregon’s mental health care and addictions treatment system, the legislators want to discuss options for system reform. In particular, they want to consider ways to integrate physical and mental health care, promote wraparound services, and reduce administrative and delivery costs.

To achieve this, the legislators proposed that two changes be discussed:

1. A change in management — Contracting with the state’s Medicaid Managed Care Organizations (MCO’s) to manage funds to purchase core mental health, addiction, and physical health services.

2. A change in payment structure — Developing a system of payment that rewards positive outcomes for patients, not the number of patient-provider encounters.

On March 24, Richard Harris, Assistant Director, Department of Human Services, Addictions and Mental Health Division, released a “system change concept” at the request of Senator Bates and Representative Kotek. The document sets out five guiding principles for the mental health and addictions service system, a description of the current system and proposed changes. It essentially supports the proposals contained in the March 19 memorandum and suggests that three pilot projects be established for 2009-11 to test the changes.

On March 25, the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Human Services heard invited testimony from representatives of Community Mental Health Programs, Fully Capitated Health Plans and Mental Health Organizations regarding the co-chair’s proposals. At the conclusion of the hearing, Senator Bates asked that DHS convene a work group to further discuss the proposals. He asked that DHS report back to the committee on April 13. DHS has set a first stake-holder meeting for April 3 from 1:00 -5:00 p.m. in Room 260 at the Labor & Industries Building, 350 Winter Street NE, Salem. Senator Bates and Representative Kotek plan to attend.

MAP – Labor & Industries Building, 350 Winter Street NE, Salem

The members of the state Ways and Means Subcommittee on Human Services

Sen. Alan Bates, D-Ashland, co-chairman
Sen. Margaret Carter, D-Portland
Sen. Jackie Winters, R-Salem

Rep. Tina Kotek, D-Portland, co-chairwoman
Rep. Mitch Greenlick, D-Portland
Rep. Bill Kennemer, R-Oregon City
Rep. Carolyn Tomei, D-Milwaukie
Rep. Dennis Richardson, R-Central Point