Reach Out PA: Wolf Administration Seeks Input from Providers on Barriers to Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Treatment February 07, 2020 SHARE Email Facebook Twitter Press Release, Public Health Governor Tom Wolf announced today that the Insurance Department, in partnership with multiple state agencies, released a survey asking health care providers for input on their experiences with barriers to mental health and substance use disorder treatment.Under the governor’s Reach Out PA: Your Mental Health Matters initiative, the Wolf Administration is undertaking a long-term, statewide campaign that seeks to educate and empower Pennsylvania providers and consumers about consumer rights under state and federal parity laws.“The results from this survey will allow us to better inform and collaborate with providers, advocates and personnel on the front lines,” said Gov. Wolf. “Their experiences will help us enhance resources, develop more tools and create learning opportunities that will help serve the providers’ needs, which will ultimately help those in need of mental wellness services.”For more than a decade, state and federal laws have required that treatment and services provided for mental health and substance use disorders must not have limitations that are stricter than those applied to medical/surgical treatments. Recent market conduct examinations of Pennsylvania insurers, however, have indicated that there are noncompliant barriers that are limiting consumers’ ability to access the treatment they need for mental health and substance use disorders.“While complicated in its wording, both state and federal law are very clear that inequitable barriers to mental health and substance use disorder treatment will not be permitted,” said Insurance Commissioner Jessica Altman. “Through our market conduct examinations, we have found that many insurers have placed limitations on treatment that are stricter than state and federal parity requirements allow.”The Wolf Administration is looking for feedback from mental health and substance use disorder providers, as well as other providers who have heard from patients that they have run into barriers when seeking treatment. The survey, developed by a working group of staff from the Insurance Department, and departments of Health (DOH), Human Services (DHS), Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP), State, Aging, the Office of the Attorney General and the Governor’s Office, will be sent to providers across the commonwealth.The survey requests specific instances regarding complaints providers have heard from their patients about barriers to access. The survey also includes questions about providers’ experiences with barriers to treatment and problems with reimbursement for mental health and substance use disorder services. The aggregate data will be used to identify and address areas of concern by creating more accessible resources, included what is needed to help providers and other stakeholders learn more about parity.“We often hear of struggles when providers seek authorization from insurers for substance use disorder treatment, particularly opioid use disorder treatment,” said DDAP Secretary Jennifer Smith. “We hope to get a better understanding of trends and how best to address them.”“Providers typically have trusted relationships with their older adult patients that can be used to overcome stigma to seeking services and to help them gain access to mental health and substance abuse disorder treatments,” said Department of Aging Secretary Robert Torres. “We want all providers to have a knowledge base that empowers them to point their patients in the right direction.”“The process for determining whether parity protections are being followed is incredibly detailed and requires data that is best identified by mental health and substance use disorder providers,” said DOH Secretary Rachel Levine. “Using the insights we gain from this survey, we will be able to give our providers better tools to empower their patients and clients.”“Ensuring that mental health services are accessible to all Pennsylvanians is a critical step as we work to break down stigma and other barriers that keep people away from treatment,” said DHS Secretary Teresa Miller. “We need people to know that when they are ready to seek help, they will be met with support, not obstacles. This survey will help identify areas to improvement to ensure that people can access the help they need.”The survey specific to providers will be sent directly to the e-mail addresses provided to the Department of State through the licensing process. The Insurance Department will be accepting survey responses through March 4, 2020. For more information about the survey, individuals can e-mail RA-IN-Parity-PID@pa.gov.Since its introduction at the beginning of the year, Reach Out PA efforts have included a new consumer feedback form launched on January 23, and publication of a proposed regulation to enhance mental health parity reporting requirements for commercial health insurers. In just 10 days, more than 1,000 Pennsylvanians have completed the online form, offering input and suggestions, many of which detail challenges to accessing mental health services and pointing to potential parity violations.Resources are available on agency websites, including information on substance use disorder and mental health coverage. More information and videos on parity can be found on insurance.pa.gov. These resources will be updated and expanded based on responses to the survey.
Pittsburgh Steelers running back Jaylen Samuels (38) is tackled by New England Patriots free safety Devin McCourty (32) during the first half of an NFL football game in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Dec. 16, 2018. (AP Photo/Don Wright)PITTSBURGH (AP) — Jaylen Samuels spent the months leading up to the 2018 NFL draft answering one question over and over again.“People were like, ‘What position (are you) going to play?‘” the Pittsburgh Steelers rookie said. “And I just kept saying ‘I’m going to play running back.’”Not everyone believed him. The NFL included.The NFL was so skeptical of the former North Carolina State star’s potential out of the backfield he was told shortly before the scouting combine that he wouldn’t be working out with the running backs but the tight ends. Samuels shrugged his shoulders, figuring it was better to be at the combine — even if it wasn’t your preferred position — than stuck at home watching it on TV.Fast forward 10 months. They don’t ask Samuels where he fits anymore. Not after the 22-year-old lit up the New England Patriots for 142 yards rushing and 172 total yards in a victory over the New England Patriots last Sunday.Samuels carried the ball 19 times — more than he can remember at any level of football — and caught a pair of passes, including a leaping 20-yard, fourth-quarter grab that helped the Steelers run some clock before adding a late field goal that pushed the margin to seven points.There were the usual aches and pains on Monday, but nothing out of the ordinary after the heavy workload. Good thing, because Samuels figures to be just as busy when the Steelers (8-5-1) travel to New Orleans to face the NFC South champion Saints (12-2) on Sunday.Newly minted Pro Bowler James Conner is still dealing with a sprained left ankle that’s forced him to miss the past two weeks, meaning Pittsburgh’s running game will be in the hands of a fifth-round pick who has quickly morphed from project to capable starter.Samuels earned a spot out of training camp thanks to the way he embraced special teams and had found a small niche as a receiving threat — he’s N.C. State’s career leader in receptions (202), just ahead of former NFL wide receivers Jerricho Cotchery and Torry Holt — before Conner went down in the fourth quarter against the Los Angeles Chargers. Samuels came in and caught a 10-yard touchdown pass on the next play.His first NFL start didn’t go quite as planned. He managed just 28 yards on 11 carries in a stunning loss to the Oakland Raiders. The problem wasn’t so much Oakland’s defense or the iffy turf so much as Samuels’ own jitters.“I felt like I wasn’t being patient enough, just being in a rush, hurry up and get to the hole and try to get there,” Samuels said. ”(Against the Patriots) I could definitely feel it all sorting out. The holes are just opening. I just felt smoother and it felt like it was more my game.”A game that not every college coach that recruited Samuels out of high school understood. UNC brought the Charlotte native in for a camp and had him practice with the linebackers.“I was like, ‘What am I doing? Why am I going backward’” Samuels said. “I need to be going forward with the ball.”N.C. State assistant coach Eddie Faulkner saw the potential and during the recruiting process pointed out all the varied ways the Wolfpack could use him. Samuels spent four record-breaking years doing a little bit of everything.Running back. Fullback. H-back. Tight end. Slot receiver. His polished route running was immediately apparent to Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger when Pittsburgh used its second pick of the fifth round on Samuels.“He has really good hands, soft hands you can really throw it all over the place and he can make plays,” Roethlisberger said.“I think he showed that this week that we can put him out there and we can do some things with him and hopefully we are just scratching the surface.”While Steelers coach Mike Tomlin jokingly replied “who said I had confidence?” when asked what gave him faith Samuels could produce, he’s not particularly surprised by what he saw against the Patriots. The shakiness in Oakland was understandable. The bounce back versus New England was promising.“There are oftentimes when you walk into stadiums, particularly as a young guy, it is a first time for a lot of things,” Tomlin said. “And I am sure as he continues to step into stadiums with a significant role for us he’ll check some boxes and do some things he hasn’t done before, but that’s just a very natural thing in terms of a young player.”One who no longer has to deal with questions about where he fits.NOTES: Conner and LB Bud Dupree (knee) did not practice Wednesday. … S Terrell Edmunds (concussion) was limited. … DE Cam Heyward (knee) was a full participant. … Roethlisberger and C Maurkice Pouncey were given the day off.___More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL
Facebook72Tweet0Pin0Submitted by City of LaceyThe City of Lacey has scholarships available for business located in Lacey, or its urban growth area, to attend the “Build Your Market” training program, offered by the Thurston Economic Development Council Center for Business and Innovation. The program is part of the ScaleUp training series and begins April 11 at the South Puget Sound Community College Lacey Campus.Training attendees will learn how to:Identify and explore growth opportunitiesDevelop a competitive advantage.Define a marketing strategy.Choose the most effective marketing tactics for their business, and more.To get more information and apply, visit ScaleUpThurston.org or contact George E. Smith, Economic Development Coordinator, City of Lacey, at GSmith@ci.lacey.wa.us or (360) 412-3199.