Articles, Leading Stories

January 1st, 2014

Final parity rule issued

By Pamela Berard

The federal government in November issued a final rule of the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, which spells out how the 2008 legislation is to be administered and should help eliminate inconsistent application. An interim final rule was issued in 2010, but the final rule includes additional consumer protections, such as: Ensuring that parity applies to intermediate levels of care received in residential treatment or intensive outpatient settings; Clarifying the scope of the transparency required by health plans, including the disclosure rights of plan participants, to ensure compliance with the law; Clarifying that [More]

January 1st, 2014

N.H. tables Medicaid expansion program

By Catherine Robertson Souter

After months of negotiations, New Hampshire’s legislature decided to table a proposal to accept the Affordable Care Act’s proposal for expanding Medicaid. In a two-week special session called by Gov. Maggie Hassan, (D) the Senate voted along party lines to reject any of the proposed plans until after the legislature re-convenes on January 8. The move comes just weeks before the year-end deadline to commit to the plan for 2014, thereby refusing the first year of three years of federal funding. As part of the Affordable Care Act, the federal government will provide 100 percent of the cost for the [More]

January 1st, 2014

Bill seeks to clarify training requirements

By Janine Weisman

Legislation seeking to broaden opportunities to complete post-doctoral psychology training in school settings in Massachusetts is expected to come before the full House of Representatives for a vote in early 2014. Rep. Ruth B. Balser, (D-Newton), introduced a bill last fall that would make schools an eligible site for certification as a Health Service Provider (HSP) for independent clinical practice. HSP certification allows a licensed psychologist to bill third party insurers for payment. The state Board of Registration of Psychologists grants this certification to applicants who demonstrate they have at least two years full-time supervised health service experience, of which [More]

January 1st, 2014

Task force explores mental health reporting for gun checks

By Janine Weisman

The gun violence prevention advocacy group Mayors Against Illegal Guns calls Rhode Island a “worst performing state” for its failure to share mental health records with the federal gun background checks database. Now a task force is taking an in-depth look at the confidentiality statute preventing the Ocean State from submitting records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). The 20-member Joint Behavioral Health and Firearms Safety Task Force has been meeting twice a month since last October and has a January 31 deadline to submit a report to the General Assembly with recommendations for new legislation. The [More]

January 1st, 2014

Impact of marathon bombing on veterans is investigated

By Rivkela Brodsky

The Boston Marathon bombing in April provided researchers at the National Center for PTSD at VA Boston Healthcare System and Boston University a rare opportunity to look at the effects of a traumatic event on combat veterans dealing with PTSD. Researchers had already been studying a group of Boston-area veterans when the terrorist attack that killed three and injured 247 occurred. “When this happened, we knew based on our clinical experience working with these guys, that this would likely be particularly shocking for them,” says Mark Miller, Ph.D., lead author and staff clinical psychologist with the National Center for PTSD [More]

January 1st, 2014

Prison’s mental health unit is expanded in Maine

By Catherine Robertson Souter

A prison-based mental health unit in Maine’s state correctional facility in Warren will see a 16-person staff expansion as part of the state’s plan to address serious issues at one of its psychiatric hospitals. In September, Gov. Paul Le-Page (R) signed a bill passed by the state legislature to expand the prison’s mental health unit to allow the hospital to send certain forensic patients there. The original plan, which allowed for potentially violent patients who have been determined incompetent to stand trial and those who are being examined to determine competency to be placed in the unit, was amended so [More]

January 1st, 2014

States make progress reducing nursing home antipsychotics use

By Janine Weisman

Rhode Island leads the region with the lowest use of antipsychotic medications among long-term nursing home patients with dementia, according to the latest data from Nursing Home Compare on Medicare.gov, the federal government’s official Medicare Web site. The site tracks quality of care information on the more than 15,000 Medicare and Medicaid-certified nursing homes in the country. The lower the rate of antipsychotic drug use among dementia patients, the better. The data excludes nursing home residents diagnosed with schizophrenia, Huntington’s disease or Tourette’s syndrome. While such medication is an important treatment for these conditions, the FDA warns they also have [More]

January 1st, 2014

Massive survey studies children’s behavior

By Howard Newman

A recently concluded study by Brown University School of Medicine, the Children’s National Medical Center and the New England Center for Pediatric Psychology is unique in several ways: size, scope and, in some ways, subject matter. The three organizations teamed up for a massive online research project called The Learning Habit Survey. Polling parents of K-12 students nationwide, the survey examined the routines, habits, personality traits and abilities of their children, searching for common interactions and causalities. More than 43,000 parents from 4,100 cities participated, making for a sample size that may be unprecedented for this type of undertaking. Responses [More]

January 1st, 2014

Anxiety patients get treated via primary care

By Rivkela Brodsky

Patients dealing with anxiety disorders in primary care appear to get treatment – although it sometimes takes years for it to happen – and this situation occurred less for minorities, according to a recent study by Brown University researchers. The study, which appeared online in the Nov. 4 issue of the journal Depression and Anxiety, looked at the types of treatment for 534 patients with anxiety symptoms in primary care over five years at 15 sites in the Northeast (N.H., Mass., R.I. and Vt.). “In a way this is almost a follow up to a paper that came out in [More]

January 1st, 2014

Prescription drug deaths high in R.I.

By Catherine Robertson Souter

Along with the increase of prescription drug use in the U.S., the number of drug-related deaths has risen sharply across the country with some states seeing rates quadruple since 1999. Here in New England, states are above average in preventing deaths – except for Rhode Island which comes in at number 13 overall. According to a recent report by the non-profit organization Trust for America’s Health (TFAH), Rhode Island sees 15.5 deaths per 100,000 people, up from 5.5 in 1999. The State’s Medical Examiner’s Office reports an average of four deaths per week. In comparison, the next closest in ratings [More]

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