February 23, 2019
The “Conference Report” which reflects the agreement between the budgets presented by the House and the Senate and which will “likely” be agreed to by both bodies and submitted to the Governor was released this evening. It does contain the following which are of significant interest to us:
- Language authorizing the realignment of behavioral health services to ensure the system supports evidence-based, trauma-informed, prevention-focused and cost-effective services for individuals served across the lifespan. Language requires a plan on the changes in provider rates, new services and other programmatic or cost changes to the Chairmen of House Appropriations and Senate Finance Committees by December 1, 2019. Agency authority to implement the changes is contingent on approval of the 2020 General Assembly and the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
- Language authorizing the promulgation of licensing regulations by the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services, upon approval of the 2020 General Assembly, to support the realignment of behavioral health services to ensure the licensing system supports evidence-based, trauma-information, prevention-focused and cost-effective services for individuals served across the lifespan.
- Language which directs the Department of Medical Assistance Services and the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services to recognize certain certifications in lieu of competency requirements for supported employment staff in the three Medicaid developmental disability waiver programs and allow certain providers that hold national accreditation for services they provide in the developmental disability waivers to be deemed qualified to meet employment staff competency requirements.
- $2.6 million from the general fund and $4.5 million from federal Medicaid matching funds to increase the Medicaid rates for mental health practitioners who bill for psychiatric services. These rates are lower than Medicare and commercial rates, resulting in fewer providers accepting Medicaid patients in need of these services. It is the intent of the General Assembly that in the enrolling of this act, funding included in this item shall be allocated among appropriate items within the Department of Medical Assistance Services. And,
- Language prohibiting the Departments of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services and Medical Assistance Services from implementing an individualized supports budget process for the three Medicaid waivers related to providing developmental disability (DD) services without explicit authorization from the General Assembly. This is a fundamental shift in current public policy regarding how DD Waiver participant plans of service are calculated, authorized and funded.