Kansas-based Netsmart Advocates on Capitol Hill for Behavioral Health Client-Providers
Industry leader engages support from Kansas delegation for behavioral health IT parity
As mental health legislation gains momentum in Congress, senior executives of Netsmart are meeting in Washington, D.C. this week with five members of the Kansas Congressional delegation. At issue is an oversight in the HITECH Act. The act in its current form excludes key behavioral health and addiction treatment providers from Meaningful Use incentive funding eligibility. Correcting the eligibility provisions would provide these providers, including community mental health centers, with much-needed capital to enhance quality of care.
The meetings are with Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS), Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS), Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS, 1st District), Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-KS, 3rd District) and Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS, 4th District). Netsmart also recently met with Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-KS, 2nd District).
“Netsmart has a long history of advocating for caregivers across the country. We believe it’s our obligation,” said Mike Valentine, Netsmart CEO. “Behavioral health providers must be able to adopt health care information technology at a rate comparable with primary care facilities, hospitals and physicians. If not, it will be difficult to provide the care coordination necessary to address serious nationwide health problems impacting the millions of people with both mental health and physical health issues.”
Several bills related to behavioral health technology were introduced in the 113th Congress to help organizations ranging from community health centers and psychiatric hospitals to clinical psychologists and addiction treatment providers qualify for incentive payments under Meaningful Use. The bills received strong bipartisan support in that session of Congress, which adjourned at the end of 2014. By meeting with the Kansas Congressional delegation, the Overland Park-based company seeks to engage their support for reintroduction of similar legislation in the 114th Congress.
Research indicates that persons with serious mental illness are dying an average of 25 years earlier than the general population. In addition, 17 percent of the general adult population have co-occurring mental and medical conditions within a given 12-month period.
“Persons served in the behavioral health space are among the largest utilizers of Medicaid dollars due to the high incidence of co-occurring disorders and visits to emergency rooms,” said Valentine. “Sixty-seven percent of that population have co-occurring conditions ranging from diabetes to heart disease. Coordinated care -- made possible in part by electronic health records (EHRs) – can improve their quality of life and lower health care costs.”
Even in the absence of needed changes to the HITECH Act, Netsmart is supplying enabling technology to enable the KanCare Health Home program to provide coordinated care and reduce costs for 37,000 Kansans with severe mental illness.
Netsmart is a founding member of the Behavioral Health IT (BHIT) Coalition, an advocacy group comprised of key organizations, including the National Council for Behavioral Health, the National Association of Psychiatric Health Systems and others. The BHIT Coalition is a strong supporter and advocate for passage of corrective legislation in Congress to extend full Meaningful Use incentive eligibility to behavioral health providers.
Rapidly growing Netsmart employs approximately 400 associates in Overland Park, Kan., with plans to add hundreds more employees in the next two calendar years.
Netsmart is committed to helping health and human services providers deliver effective, outcomes-based care with Netsmart’s CareFabric™ solution, a tightly woven framework of innovative clinical and business solutions and services that supports integrated, coordinated delivery of health services across the spectrum of care.
More than 23,000 client organizations, including 450,000 care providers and more than 40 state systems, use Netsmart solutions to help improve the quality of life for more than 25 million people each day.
Netsmart is pleased to support the EveryDay Matters Foundation, which was established for behavioral and public health organizations to learn from each other and share their causes and stories. For more information, visit www.everydaymatters.com
Learn more about how Netsmart and the CareFabric solution are changing the face of healthcare today. Visit www.ntst.com, call 1-800-472-5509, follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook or visit us on YouTube.
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