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Public Policy Update

April 10, 2015
Chris Bouneff, Executive Director

Greetings NAMI public policy followers --

We're overdue for an update on the legislative session, which continues at a rapid pace. The first deadline for bills is coming up on April 21. This is when most legislation has to be voted out of its assigned committee to continue through the legislative process. The next week or so should be busy with final work sessions being held to consider what bills will move forward.

There's been a ton of legislation that we've been following. Below are summaries of four issues in which we've been involved. You can find information about the legislative session at: https://olis.leg.state.or.us/liz/2015R1

* House Bill 2825 is the NAMI Oregon housing investment incentive fund legislation that is NAMI Oregon's top legislative priority for 2015. This is the 20 percent incentive fund that communities across Oregon could tap to build more housing infrastructure for individuals living with mental illness. The House Health Care Committee approved the bill unanimously. It was referred to the Joint Ways & Means Committee where it will be considered for funding. As the concept has already proven itself, we are hopeful that budget-writers will allocate funding to our legislation.

You can find a summary of HB 2825 here: http://goo.gl/h52DJW

The Joint Ways and Means Committee will be touring the state starting next week to hear from Oregonians on budget priorities. A separate notice will be sent out later about those hearings. We will be asking NAMI members to attend to ask for support for HB 2825 as well as improved mental health and addiction treatment funding.

* Some may have read in The Oregonian earlier this week about legislation from Disability Rights Oregon (DRO) that would ensure that prison inmates with serious mental illness had access to treatment services. A DRO investigation found that inmates with serious mental illness held in the Behavioral Health Unit at the Oregon State Penitentiary were basically held in solitary confinement, which exacerbated their mental health symptoms.

NAMI Oregon submitted testimony in favor of Senate Bill 739. You can read NAMI's testimony here: http://goo.gl/G4ra9V. The bill is unlikely to move forward, but just holding the hearing itself on the issue is an achievement.

* We continue to participate in discussions about House Bill 2023, which is aimed at improving discharge planning in hospital settings and at improving engagement with family and caregivers whose loved ones are hospitalized for mental health crises. The legislation is slated for a work session on April 15 before the House Health Care Committee. The latest draft of the bill, or amendments, has yet to be published.
                                                                                                                                       
Our hope is that the final version of the legislation leads to a firm commitment on the part of hospitals to develop standard protocols and guidelines that lead to more uniform discharge planning and more uniform engagement with the caregivers or family members who will be tasked with assisting their loved one after being in the hospital or in the emergency room.

* NAMI Oregon testified in favor of Senate Bills 831 and 832, which are intended to increase access to licensed mental health providers in primary care settings. The issue of access to licensed providers is an important one for Oregon Health Plan members and for NAMI Oregon.

Typically, OHP members who need specialized mental health treatment are limited to nonprofit agencies that predominantly utilize unlicensed practitioners. While these therapists have specialized education and training, they are unable to see patients without clinical supervision, unlike licensed providers who are overseen by one of Oregon's professional boards.

For NAMI, this is an issue of parity. Those with commercial health insurance have ready access to licensed professionals for mental health treatment. Those with the Oregon Health Plan are denied similar access to licensed professionals.

NAMI Oregon typically favors any legislation or policies that increase access to licensed providers, which also increases provider choice for individuals and families seeking treatment. SB 832 is scheduled for a work session on April 21 before the Senate Committee on Human Services and Early Childhood. The bill is expected to be amended, although amendments have yet to be published.

 

Please feel free to shoot any comments or questions my way.

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)
January 2015 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)
State Budget (PDF File)
Medical Access House Bill 2421 (PDF File)
Housing Funding House Bill 2825 (PDF File)
February 2015 Public Policy Update (PDF File)
Housing Fund Testimony (PDF File)
February 27, 2015 Public Policy Update (PDF File)
March 2015 Public Policy Update (PDF File)

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