Leading Stories, Articles

June 1st, 2014

Medicaid program expands in N.H.

By Catherine Robertson Souter

After tabling a vote on the subject at the end of last year, the New Hampshire legislature has passed a bill that will officially expand the state’s Medicaid program. The plan was passed first by the Republican-controlled Senate and then by the Democratic-held House. The bill, signed into law by Gov. Maggie Hassan on March 26, will take advantage of federal funding earmarked by the Affordable Care Act to expand coverage to adults who earn up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level (approximately $16,000 for a single adult). The federal government offered to pay 100 percent of the [More]

June 1st, 2014

Bill for more mental health benefits vetoed

By Howard Newman

A bill that would have extended mental health benefits for young adults was passed by both houses of the Maine legislature and then vetoed by Republican Gov. Paul R. LePage on April 29. Maine Bill LD 1367, sponsored by state Rep. Anne Graham (D-No. Yarmouth), carried provisions for an Assertive Community Treatment plan that would have covered adults through age 26. The original version of the bill called for coverage by MaineCare (the state’s Medicaid program) as well as private insurers. It was later amended to place responsibility for this care on the state’s Dept. of Health and Human Services [More]

June 1st, 2014

ICD-10 conversion delayed

By Catherine Robertson Souter

In a surprising turn of events, after the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services had sworn there would be no extension to the deadline for the conversion to the ICD-10 diagnostic and procedural codes, the U.S. Congress recently passed a bill that included a one-year extension to the launch. In March, the legislature passed a hotly debated bill designed to temporarily address the problem of Medicare cuts for physicians. The ICD-10 delay was added as a one line side item. The ICD-10 is the latest edition of the International Classification of Diseases, a coding system created by the World Health [More]

June 1st, 2014

Report: Greater integration, communication would benefit needs

By Pamela Berard

Vermont has a good framework in place to address the mental health and substance use needs of students but would benefit from increased communication among state agencies and greater integration and coordination with community and home-based services and supports. So says a report exploring the delivery of school-based mental health and substance services. The report – issued jointly by the Agency of Education and the Agency of Human Services, as a result of Act No. 68 of 2013 (An Act Relating to School-Based Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services) – was based on data from a survey sent to Vermont [More]

June 1st, 2014

TAC survey on inmate treatment: New England falls short

By Phyllis Hanlon

In April, the Treatment Advocacy Center (TAC) released its findings from a national survey that examined the treatment administered to individuals with a mental illness who are living in state prisons and county jails. The report shines a negative light on the situation, especially in New England. According to the survey, in 2012 prisons and jails housed an estimated 356,000 inmates with severe mental illness, while public hospitals had 35,000 patients with severe mental illness. The survey explains that incarceration instead of hospitalization leads to associated problems including jail/prison overcrowding, behavioral issues, physical attacks, victimization, mental deterioration, isolation, jail/prison suicides, [More]

June 1st, 2014

Retiree devotes self to juvenile justice work

By Catherine Robertson Souter

Whereas some may dream of a life of golf or travel or gardening during their retirement years, there are others who see that time as an opportunity to make a positive impression on the world around them. For Mark Booher, Ph.D., retirement from a career in the public sector has meant more time and energy to be spent doing work that, while unpaid, has high value for society and, in the end for his own sense of self. Booher worked for nearly 30 years for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in various roles including in state-run psychiatric hospitals, prisons and outpatient [More]

May 1st, 2014

Fears of children left behind under DSM-5 not materializing

By Janine Weisman

Many had concerns when the fifth edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders” (DSM-5) combined four separate disorders under one umbrella: autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The loss of official recognition previously given autistic disorder, Asperger’s disorder, childhood disintegrative disorder and the catch-all pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified triggered fears of children going undiagnosed and without services they needed. But a year after DSM-5’s May 2013 release, those fears haven’t materialized despite conflicting research on the subject. Clinicians say they have yet to observe a decrease in the numbers of clients or referrals because [More]

May 1st, 2014

Other changes show mixed results

By Janine Weisman

In other areas, DSM-5 included a new chapter on Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders that recognized two new disorders: hoarding disorder and excoriation (skin-picking) disorder. But the changes reflected what was already happening in the research and treatment communities, says Jesse Crosby, Ph.D., of the OCD Institute at McLean Hospital in Belmont, Mass. “We have not seen any increase in new patients presenting with these disorders as we were already regularly treating these conditions,” Crosby says, adding that excoriation and hoarding were already considered related disorders or part of the OCD spectrum. Crosby says the treatment approach has remained the same [More]

May 1st, 2014

Movement of Taunton State patients still causing furor

By Phyllis Hanlon

Since 2012, when Gov. Deval Patrick announced plans to close Taunton State Hospital, proponents and opponents of the move have continued to clash over the decision. While the original plans have been amended – 45 of the hospital’s 169 beds remain open – the governor maintains his plan to transfer the remaining patients to the Worcester Recovery Center and Hospital (WRCH) and use the property for other purposes. “Consistent with the department’s statewide vision for public mental health services, the department plans to transition the remaining 45 continuing care beds at Taunton State Hospital to the Worcester Recovery Center and [More]

May 1st, 2014

State’s plans for Taunton announced

By Phyllis Hanlon

Anna Chinappi, director, Office of Communications and Community Engagement at the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health, provided a fact sheet that outlines the state’s plans for Taunton State Hospital. According to the fact sheet, the Department of Youth Services currently occupies space in three different buildings on the Taunton campus and serves 80 residents. The facility also contains a 16-bed vendor-run program, the Intensive Residential Treatment Program and High Point Treatment Center has opened a 40-bed unit. The Executive Office of Health and Human Services and the Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance are discussing the possibility of creating [More]

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